Archive for the ‘Insights’ Category:
I’ve often heard it said that, “from little things, great things grow.” Such was the case with LearnKey’s Word 2013 ASL course. While attending the ACTE convention in Las Vegas last December a chance encounter with an educator interested in online training for her deaf students became that “little thing.”
On the production side of LearnKey we’re always looking for ways to improve our product, ways to make it more useful for our users, and more efficient to produce. After the convention in Vegas I was asked to explore the possibility of producing a course in American Sign Language. It is challenges like these—challenges of the unexplored—that inspire our team. As the team wrapped up a busy production year and prepared for a relaxing holiday season we felt like we had outlined the needs from a process standpoint. We had chosen our course (Word 2013), we had figured out the logistics of incorporating an interpreter into the video, we had the transcript for the course, we had even come up with several options for making the filming process relatively simple; all we needed now was an interpreter.
Enter Amelia Williams.
Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect when searching for an interpreter. I have spent the last several years searching out experts in various computer fields for LearnKey’s projects and in some ways that is relatively simple—at least from the finding someone who is certified aspect. For this search I started where I always start with a new project; I talked with people I knew who knew more about this than I. Cedar City is home to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. I have had the opportunity to attend several of the plays in years past and as chance would have it I have attended shows with sign language interpreters. I reached out to the Festival and was given contact information for Amelia Williams. I reached out via email and hoped for the best. I had no idea how “best” this would turn out to be.
Amelia and I corresponded via email several times and she expressed an interest in the project and agreed to a phone call to further explore what LearnKey was looking for. Now, it should be stated at this point that I have a tendency to get pretty passionate about the projects we do and this project had become one that I was very excited about. Needless to say I was somewhat giddy when I spoke with Amelia on the phone. She was kind enough to look past my overenthusiastic pitch and see the value in the course we wanted to produce. She agreed to work with LearnKey to put together a 20 minute proof-of-concept to see if producing a course in ASL would even be viable.
In the time it took her to prepare the material I had the opportunity to become more educated about what it takes to be an interpreter. I had never considered that there were certifications for interpreters—I suppose I had simply never put any thought in that direction. I learned that it isn’t easy to become certified. It is a rigorous and oftentimes expensive process. I learned that there are national and state-level certifications that can consist of written tests, interviews, and performance tests. It wasn’t until I had this basic understanding that I realized how fortunate we were to find Amelia who holds both state and national certifications.
There was a great deal of energy in the studio when time for filming the proof finally rolled around. The studio crew was excited to try something new as was Amelia. With very little fuss all was set and the camera was rolling. Within the first 30 seconds, without saying anything, we all knew we had something special. We were so sure about this project that before Amelia left the studio we had booked her to film the remaining portions of the course.
From a chance conversation in Las Vegas convention center grew our first course in American Sign Language. We’re proud of Word 2013 ASL and are looking forward to our next foray into ASL.
Amelia Williams holds a Master of Education Degree, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Certificate of Interpretation (CI) & Certificate of Transliteration (CT) national certifications, and is a Certified Utah Professional interpreter. Her current position is Disability Specialist/ASL Interpreter Coordinator at Weber State University.
For nearly 30 years Cedar City has played host to the Utah Summer Games. For the past several years I’ve wanted to participate in the 3×3 soccer tournament, but for any number of “convenient” reasons it has never quite come together—couldn’t find enough players to field a team, going to be out of town, had other plans—things of that nature.
This year the planets aligned and I was able to participate with a team of fellow LearnKey employees. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I should state that I am somewhat past my prime when it comes to my soccer playing days, in fact I would dare say that I was in contention for being the oldest player in the tournament. Full disclosure part II—we would be playing in a division made up of players 17 years-old and older. Due to the number of teams in the tournament the Open and Intermediate divisions were combined which meant that we would be playing some pretty decent teams and not the weekend warriors that we were anticipating.
We were able to practice as a team only three times prior to competition and during one of those practices I had cramped up so bad in my right leg as to hardly be able to kick the ball much less run after it—it was shaping up to be a stellar tournament.
The Friday of our first game (we were guaranteed three) we were pretty excited and a little nervous. We played somewhat haphazardly during the first half of the game—running about without coordinating our efforts and generally just playing poorly. We got our act together by the second half and played a much better game—though still coming out on the losing end. It should be noted, however, that the opposing team did go on to win the tournament undefeated.
We ended up playing four more games. With each game we played better. With each game we gained confidence. With each game we enjoyed ourselves more and more. We finished the tournament with a silver medal in the Intermediate (“consolation”) bracket and had an absolute ball (pun intended) doing so.
So what does this have to do with certification? A couple of things. First off, there will always be a reason to not do a certification. Second, proper preparation is essential. Finally, certification yields numerous rewards.
Honestly, we got lucky. We did play well, but we weren’t well prepared. However, we’re already planning for next year. We know what our strengths are as well as what we need to work on. The point is, we jumped in and tried. Sometimes it is overcoming that first step—just doing it—that can be the most daunting. Certification can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Learn from our soccer mistakes and prepare, but above all—do it!
What’s new to Photoshop CC? Personally, I think that it is awesome that with Photoshop CC I will have access to updates or new features to Photoshop CC the day they are released. This means means that Photoshop CC users everywhere will always have the latest and greatest when it comes to Photoshop features. Those who take LearnKey’s Photoshop CC course will be prepared to take the Photoshop ACA Visual Communication exam and have access to hundreds of practice test questions along with relevant labs and demos to help students learn how to confidently use the newest features found in Photoshop CC.
Exam: ACA Visual Communication Certification
LearnKey’s new Photoshop CC course will introduce students to hundreds of new updates and features in the latest Photoshop update. Whether you are a graphic designer or a novice photographer you will learn how to edit photographs, images, or create logos and marketing pieces. LearnKey’s Photoshop CC course will teach students what they need to know in order to effectively and easily prepare to test their skills through the ACA Visual Communication Certification exam.
Today we are excited to announce the release of our very first course that is presented in American Sign Language. Those who take this course will be able to view LearnKey’s Word 2013 ASL course taught by LearnKey expert Robin Posnack, with Amelia Williams signing the course from a pop-out screen. Those who take this course will be prepared to take exam 77-418 and have access to hundreds of practice and test questions along with relevant labs and demos to help students learn how to use Microsoft Word confidently.
Word 2013 ASL
Students who are working towards becoming career ready must have a working knowledge of Word 2013. Computer expert Robin Posnack will teach you the basics of the software while Amelia Williams presents the course in American Sign language; from there, she will build on concepts and ideas until you have the software figured out. You will be prepared to create resumes, cover letters, newsletters and more. The course will also teach you how to create and manage documents and format text, paragraphs, and sections. Plus learn how to create tables and lists and insert and format objects.
Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed.
This month we feature an all around team player from our Cedar City, UT office. Her tenure at LearnKey includes roles on the graphic design team and most recently upon her return she is part of our “rock star” technical writing team.
KaeLee DeMille is her name and helping out anyway she can, even painting the office, is her game! That’s right we recently had a painting party and she was an integral part , with paint brush in hand helping out anyway she can.
Another great quality is that she is always striving to improve her knowledge and skill set which was noted as she recently passed her Microsoft Word Certification exam. That is a big accomplishment considering her current role is technical writing and leveraging her knowledge of Word and the exam process will only help us make our courses better.
Here is what her team leader had to say during the nomination process “KaeLee is a fantastic individual who when she first started at LearnKey worked as one of our talented Designers. After graduating from Southern Utah University and a two year hiatus, she rejoined LearnKey in our Technical Writing department and hit the ground running.”
Take a minute to learn some fun facts about KaeLee and her family:
1. How many siblings do you have? 1 younger brother.
2. What is your favorite movie? Dan in Real Life, or anything with Steve Carell 😉
3. What is your favorite band? Currently: The Summerset; but I never get sick of The Format
4. What is your favorite vacation spot? San Diego (I’ve been there once.)
5. What was your high school’s mascot? Golden Eagles
6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Escargot on a French class field trip in high school.
7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? I have two dogs, Dani and Bubba.
8. What was your first car? 1990 Toyota Camry (Great car!)
9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? France
10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or para sail? Para sailing
11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? “I’m going to take a self-portrait of myself.”
12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? Brené Brown because her work is super interesting to me and I love her book, Daring Greatly.
Please join me in congratulating KaeLee for demonstrating our core values by making it easy for team members to work with you, always delivering value through your contributions to the writing team and building trust along the way by your inspiring actions (even when it comes to painting)!
Last week, Adobe released an update to their Creative Cloud software. A major change from previous versions of Adobe’s software is now they have removed the ability to encode video into the FLV and F4V formats.
Yes, you read that right. After Effects CC 2014, Premiere Pro CC 2014, and Media Encoder CC 2014 can no longer export video to the FLV or F4V formats.
Interestingly enough, Flash CC 2014 can still import FLV video. Those who use embedded video in Flash can still import video as usual, but Adobe no longer provides the tools to create those videos.
Luckily, there are many other tools out there to do the job. A quick Google search will bring up a myriad of websites and free tools for converting video to FLV.
Another option is to keep older versions of Media Encoder and After Effects installed alongside your CC 2014 versions. If you’re like me and have already uninstalled your earlier versions of the Adobe software, there is still hope. From the Creative Cloud panel, you can install CC 2014, CC, and CS6 versions of the software, so simply reinstall an older version of the program you need.
Under the Apps tab, scroll down to the Find New Apps section and change ‘All Apps’ to ‘Previous Version.’
Click the Install button next to the desired software and you will see a dropdown giving you the option to install CS6, CC, or CC 2014. Select the option you want, and once the software is installed you should be back in business.
Yesterday, LearnKey temporarily welcomed back an old friend, the talented Lee Wiley. Lee is a former LearnKey employee and a rising star in the world of graphic novels. He is also the author of our upcoming Adobe Illustrator CC course, which began filming last night and is scheduled for release in August.
I first met Lee in 2009, when I was the Design Team Lead for LearnKey. He was looking for a job in his chosen field, and I was short a designer. The Fates aligned and Lee became the newest member of my team.
Over the next year, I worked closely with Lee on many LearnKey projects and he quickly became one of the most trusted members of my team. I transferred to LearnKey’s Salt Lake office in 2010, and a few months later Lee became the Lead Designer.
Apparently I had been holding the design team back. The next couple of years saw a revolution in the style of our courses, beginning with the Adobe Creative Suite 5 courses. Lee has never been afraid to take risks and challenge established methods, and the visual content of our courses reflected that. Although I will not be working directly with Lee on the Illustrator CC course, it’s good to know he is at the helm.
Lee has always been active in cutting-edge projects, the most notable of which is a five-part graphic novel series, Expiration Date. Written by scriptwriter Robert Zappia, Expiration Date is the futuristic tale of world overpopulation and a suspected conspiracy involving one government’s unique solution. Issues #1 and #2 were released in 2012 and 2013, and Issue #3 is set to debut this fall at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.
This article is the third in a three-part series written by LearnKey’s Online Content and Social Media Manager about achieving industry certification.
Read Part 1 and Part 2
My experience with LearnKey courses and industry certification has taught me a few things about elearning. My advice for those using online training to achieve industry certification:
- Take notes as you watch the LearnKey training, especially on concepts that are unfamiliar to you. Even if you don’t use them to study, sometimes just the act of writing something down helps to cement it in your head.
- Take full advantage of the pre-tests. Pre-test questions give you an immediate ‘Correct’ or ‘Incorrect’ so you can keep trying until you get the right answer. Unless you are in a learning environment that requires you to keep track of your pre-test score, you can answer the same question several times before moving on to the next question. Alternatively, you can use the study guide from the incorrect pre-test questions to know which areas in the training you should pay more attention to.
- Take full advantage of the labs. Not only do the labs give you experience following a specific set of instructions within a simulation of the software, they are also included in the post-test. You can run through the labs as many times as you need to, so knowing how to complete the labs will boost your post-test score.
- Take full advantage of the study guides. When you miss a question on the pre- or post-test, that question is added to your study guide for that test. Go back through the video training and watch the sections that cover the incorrect questions.
- Take full advantage of the project workbook. Along with containing valuable reference information, project workbooks are designed to give students experience within the actual software rather that in a simulated environment. Project difficulties range from Beginner to Advanced, so even experienced users can find something of benefit in the workbooks.
- Take full advantage of the MasterExam. Think of the MasterExam as the post-test for the entire course. LearnKey recommends that you pass the MasterExam three times before you attempt to take the certification exam. This may seem like overkill for more experienced users, but those with less experience will find it helpful.
- Explore the software. Open up the menus, learn the features, and just take some time to figure things out on your own. When you want a little more structure, use the study guides and the notes you took during the training to help you learn the software inside and out.
- Don’t wait too long between completion of the training course and taking your certification exam. Unless you have a lot of previous experience or a photographic memory, you will forget things between finishing the course and taking the exam. The less time that passes, the less information you will forget.
- And, most important, remember that certification isn’t everything. Industry certification looks good on a resume and may help you get ahead in the job market, but the ultimate goal is to know how to use the software proficiently. If you can pass the certification test but you can’t really use the software, you won’t last very long at that job you were offered because of your certifications.
Whether you choose to follow my advice or not, good luck on your path to industry certification!
This article is the second in a three-part series written by LearnKey’s Online Content and Social Media Manager about achieving industry certification. Check back in a couple of weeks for Part 3.
Read Part 1
LearnKey’s training does an excellent job of covering the Photoshop exam objectives, but the exam requires that the test taker actually know how to do a task rather than simply answering multiple-choice questions about the software. While not impossible, if you have taken LearnKey’s training but never opened the software, the exam will certainly be more difficult.
In recent years, LearnKey has recognized the value of actual experience versus straight instruction. Our course workbooks have been beefed up to include comprehensive projects that allow students to apply the processes and skills they just learned from the instructor. These new project workbooks require students to actually use the software and spend some time getting to know their way around it.
LearnKey also requires our subject matter experts to not only be known in their field, but to have taken and passed the most recent version of the exam for the course they are teaching. This ensures that instructors not only study the current exam objectives, but that they have real experience with the current version of the exam. These factors combine to help students be as prepared as possible when exam time comes.
After passing the Photoshop ACA exam I intended to continue with my certifications, but life got in the way. Things get hectic when you are working full time, married to a full-time student with a part-time job, raising a family, attempting to keep up on house and yard maintenance, managing several independent blogs and websites, writing a book, and trying to squeeze in a little freelance or personal design work. Who has time and energy for extra training when the last thing you want to do at night is turn the computer back on?
Then earlier this year, LearnKey’s CEO challenged every employee to get at least one certification in 2014. Since the bulk of my job entails managing LearnKey’s website and blog, I committed to becoming certified in Dreamweaver CS6. I was able take advantage of the self-paced nature of LearnKey’s courses and watch a half hour or so of training on Saturdays in between housework and yard maintenance. This meant that my path to Dreamweaver certification was a little slower than my path to Photoshop certification, but I was still able to exceed my goal of becoming certified by June 30.
Our IT department rocks and one of the reasons is people like our newest Better Learning Systems employee of the month, Scott Wallace. He treats everyone (internal or external) like a customer, with respect, follow-up, and “can do” attitude. Over the past three months Scott was there for us and our customers at very critical times and we were so fortunate for that. He comes in on weekends if need be, takes on additional responsibilities and always demonstrates our core values because he’s easy to work with, builds trust with people, and values the efforts of his peers .
One of the best experiences for me working with Scott is when he explained in simple terms what we needed to do to eliminate “points of failure” in our technical and operational support areas. I really respected how candid he was and not only expressed the problem but also recommended the right solutions. These recommendations keep our OnlineExpert.com enterprise up and running as well as our many office systems and servers.
His passion for making sure our teachers, students, and veterans have a good learning experience is clearly demonstrated by how he is always willing to take a call to help them any way he can. Could be an internet connection issue, web browser, configuration settings; he demonstrates patience and willingness at all times.
Take a minute to get to know some fun facts about Scott:
1. How many siblings do you have? Two.
2. What is your favorite movie? I can’t answer that there are too many, so I’ll give you my first favorite movie. Johnny Sokko and Giant Robot.
3. What is your favorite band? Led Zeppelin.
4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere I go together with Dawn & Izzie.
5. What was your high school’s mascot? An Alta hawk, which is a fictitious bird, btw.
6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Not really sure?
7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Bogger & Izzie.
8. What was your first car? 1970 Z-28 Camaro.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I would take Dawn on a Disneyland world tour, or where ever she wanted to go.
10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? We’ve been zip-lining. Parasailing I guess.
11. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? How could I have dinner with someone from the future? There is no possible way in our fixed number of dimensions that I could possible know who will be in existence in the future. Not two days into the future, not two seconds into the future. Ok how about my wife this weekend at the finest Disneyland restaurant in California.
As previously stated our IT department rocks and Scott Wallace is a big reason for that! Thank you again Scott and congratulations!