My Blue Ocean Experience

by Tristan - Jan 05, 2015


My name is Tristan Roberts. I’m a veteran who obtained my IT certifications through LearnKey and I’m writing to share my experience with LearnKey’s Blue Ocean Program with those who might be considering taking on the challenge. I spent about nine months working through the program. During that time I acquired the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications as well as Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel, and Outlook certifications, and I’m going to talk about some of the successes I had, as well as some of the failures during my journey.

I believe that most of the success I had was due to having the right attitude going into the program. I spoke with my advisor (Seth Boyak) and he gave me a good idea of what to expect out of the program, provided me with a demo to sample, provided me with an estimated timeline, and let me know that it wouldn’t be easy. That is a point I want to reiterate…this is not a program that you can expect to skate through, which is a rude awakening I had when I went in for my first A+ exam after months of studying. It’s going to take a good mix of motivation, focus, drive, resourcefulness, and patience to make it through, but it is doable.

I had to find specific traits within myself that helped me be successful in this program.

Motivation– You should have a genuine desire to learn the information that you strive for or it is likely that you will lose interest very quickly.

Focus– You have to set aside the time to learn and eliminate as many distractions as possible to give yourself a better chance to retain the information.

Drive– There has to be an end goal, or something you are striving for to keep you going during the difficult times or it is easy to consider giving up when it gets difficult.

Resourcefulness– The IT world is full of unlimited information and is constantly changing. Portions you already know, portions you will learn, portions that will change, portions that have already changed. Sometimes the information will be easy to find, and sometimes it will be difficult, but it’s important to know that there is an answer, you just have to seek it out a little harder periodically.

Patience – Some of these certifications are difficult to obtain and you will need to take a one step at a time approach to prepare yourself to be as ready as possible. It’s a good idea to explore all of the resources that are provided (and sometimes find your own) if you expect to be complete the program and pass your certification exams.

LearnKey has great employees who are willing to go above and beyond to help us veterans in any way possible, and that is a big part of the reason that I accepted a job with LearnKey, when they offered me a job once I completed the Blue Ocean program. I wanted to help other veterans going through the program avoid some of the barriers that impeded my progress.

Overall I am grateful that I came across the Blue Ocean program and that I was able to complete this difficult challenge and not let it defeat me. Even after I failed my first exam, I just took a couple days off and attacked it again from another angle, and that is the approach you must bring with you entering this program. If you can do that, I’m proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.



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2014 Highlights

by Brad - Dec 31, 2014


The changing of a year is often a time of reflection and rededication. It’s a time to reflect on and analyze events of the previous year and rededicate ourselves to becoming the best we can be. It’s a time to remember accomplishments and set goals for the coming year. As I reflect on what LearnKey has accomplished in 2014, I realize that LearnKey and Better Learning Systems have had a very busy year. Very busy, and very productive.

LearnKey Website Redesign

Early this year, we began updating the design of the LearnKey website. This design update was an extensive process and was implemented a page at a time over the course of several months. The initial design was developed by Colin Bell, who left the company in February to pursue freelance web design work. Over the next several months, I created variations on Colin’s design to bring the remaining pages on the website into harmony with the finished pages.

Also in early 2014, Better Learning Systems developed an educational grant program to provide LearnKey courseware at a discounted rate for individuals who qualify. Our goal with this program is to provide assistance to those who need help in reaching their educational and professional goals, helping them gain the skills they need to succeed in their careers.

In February, LearnKey attended the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Recognition Ceremony put on by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Alex Bell and Emma Mendez, two teachers who have worked closely with LearnKey over the years, were both honored at the ceremony.

In March, LearnKey courseware was approved by the New York State Department of Labor and added to the Eligible Training Provider List. To be included, LearnKey courses were subjected to a review process to ensure they complied with the high standards set by the Department of Labor.

In June, as we began to wrap up the new website design, a new feature was added to the LearnKey website. Website users now have the option of engaging in a live chat with members of the LearnKey Client Services team.

In a much-needed move, LearnKey announced the retirement of a large number of obsolete courses in July. In order to make the transition easier for users, the courses on the list are no longer being sold but will remain active on OnlineExpert until January.

Amelia Williams

Also in July, we released our first course presented in American Sign Language, Word 2013 ASL. Presented by certified ASL interpreter Amelia Williams, this course represents LearnKey’s latest attempt to improve our product and make it more useful for users.

In August, LearnKey Veteran Services’s Blue Ocean program began showing results with the graduation of Tristan Roberts. While in the Blue Ocean program, Tristan earned certifications in CompTIA’s A+, Network+, and Security+, and Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and Outlook. Upon graduation, Tristan was offered a job at LearnKey and is now a member of our Veteran Services team.

LKVS Website Redesign

In September, we updated the design of the LearnKey Veteran Services website to match the design of the main LearnKey site, including the live chat option. We also added a new Student Resource Center for Veteran Services students. The Student Resource Center includes support information, LKVS contact information, and links to our monthly LKVS newsletters, certification pocket guides, and weekly tutoring sessions.

In October, LearnKey attended the Arizona Business Leadership’s “Heroes for Hire” event where we were recognized by the ESGR for our efforts in hiring veterans. LearnKey has employed many veterans over the years and promises a job offer to any veteran to graduate from our Blue Ocean program.

Over the course of the year, LearnKey has been working on an application with the Project Management Institute (PMI) to be recognized as a Registered Education Provider. In October, LearnKey’s application was approved. This means that LearnKey’s Certified Associate in Project Management® 2014 and Project Management Professional® 2014 Certification Prep courses have met the PMI’s rigorous quality criteria.

By anyone’s standard, I would say 2014 was a fantastic year for LearnKey. In addition to the nineteen new courses we’ve released, LearnKey has updated our websites, been recognized for the quality of our products, and instituted several new programs to further education. We are meeting our goal of helping people fulfill their dreams through better learning, and LearnKey plans to continue our mission in 2015.



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Tutor Tuesday

by Tristan - Dec 30, 2014


As some of you know our Veteran Services team has started a tutoring session every Tuesday. We have been doing it for about a month and are having more and more success each week.

Tutor Tuesday started slow with no one showing up for the first session. The next session hosted one attendee and lasted about an hour. We went over some of the issues that he was having with OLE, and I also gave him a demonstration of how to navigate through CramMaster. The next couple of weeks hosted at least two attendees each session, and we discussed many topics such as study tactics, how to approach exams, and how to use GMetrix, CramMaster, OLE, and other outside resources more efficiently. We discussed common issues, test taking strategies, and the certification guides as well.

This past week hosted potentially six attendees (three showed up), the most to this point. It is starting to grow and I think it is beneficial for all parties (including myself). The best thing about Tutor Tuesday is the vets get to meet and interact with other vets going through the same program, and in most cases the same certifications. Most of them have the same issues and questions so it puts their mind at ease that they are not alone. At the end of each session I ask every veteran if they are comfortable with exchanging contact information with the others on the call so they can be a resource to each other. I think as word gets out and we all figure out the mechanics of virtual tutoring sessions it will do nothing but grow.

Our next step is to create a share site where the vets can interact virtually and share notes and resources between each other. Coming up in 2015 we will also begin producing online videos that discuss the issues that were covered in each tutoring session.

We meet every Tuesday from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm MST. If you are interested in participating in our call, contact your LearnKey Veteran Services representative for call info.



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Big Apple Classic — LearnKey Sponsoring Students in New York City Schools

by Kim - Dec 23, 2014


BAC---Program-small

In December 2013 Jared Baker and I were invited as guests of Sterling Roberson, Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools, with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City to attend an event called ‘Big Apple Classic’(BAC).

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After seeing firsthand what an impact this had on the students who attended last year’s event, we wanted to get more involved in 2014. We are excited to announce that LearnKey did play a bigger part in 2014 by sponsoring schools which allowed students the opportunity to attend a basketball game, held in the Barclay’s Center Nets Arena in Brooklyn, and to attend the Leadership Summit, hosted at the UFT headquarters.

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The Leadership Summit gives students access to accomplished presenters, educators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the industry inspiring them to set goals, pursue their dreams, and to help them understand that these opportunities are possible for them too. We are extremely excited to be a part of this program by giving back to the students in New York City schools.

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More about the Big Apple Classic:

Big Apple Classic was launched seven years ago as New York’s first ever HBCU basketball competition. Produced by Johnson, Inc., a Richmond, VA-based marketing firm, the Big Apple Classic has one primary goal: to increase the awareness of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Northeast region. In addition to exciting basketball action featuring top CIAA and MEAC teams, BAC attendees enjoy live entertainment, an HBCU college fair, and more. Each year, the BAC partners with a non-profit organization or charitable cause that impacts the African American community, and donates a portion of the ticket proceeds. (Reference: http://thebigappleclassic.com)



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Training the Planet–One Certification at a Time

by Brad - Dec 18, 2014


BLS Vision poster

We’ve talked a lot this year about job training and industry certification, and not just because LearnKey is an elearning company. Industry certification is one of the little things that sets a candidate apart when applying for a job. Continuing education is what helps an employee keep their job in an ever-changing technological landscape.

LearnKey’s mission is to create flexible expert learning solutions – solutions that work for everyone because they are not only easy to use, but they are extremely engaging and interactive. Our goal is to train the planet through a better learning experience.

At the beginning of the year, Jeff Coruccini, Chief Executive Officer of LearnKey, challenged our employees to use LearnKey’s training to earn at least one certification in their respective fields. This served the dual purpose of (a) helping employees to gain additional training and achieve certification, and (b) giving all employees the chance to experience our training and give feedback on how to improve our products. Several employees have taken Jeff up on his challenge and during 2014 LearnKey helped the following employees achieve certification:

LearnKey’s Veteran Services team has also been busy this year helping veterans to become certified. There are currently over 300 veterans enrolled in LearnKey’s Blue Ocean and Certify for Life programs with each student working toward several certifications. One of our first Blue Ocean graduates was Tristan Roberts, who earned A+, Network+, Security+, Word, Outlook, and Excel certifications this year, and now works for LearnKey on our Veteran Services team.

Congratulations to all those who have earned certifications this year and in previous years, and good luck to all those to are studying to become certified.



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My Adventures With Excel…Part 2

by Chad - Dec 09, 2014


Editor’s Note: This article is Part 2 of a two-part series . “My Adventures with Excel…Part 1” can be found here.

OK. I’m back. It took a little longer than expected, but I finally forced myself to take the time to watch LearnKey’s Excel 2013 training. I sat down in early November and watched Michael Meskers present Excel 2013. Michael is a great trainer. He’s had years of experience in Excel, and it shows. He calmly and fluently explained how to use each feature.

When I got to the section about formulas, I really paid attention. If you will remember from my previous post, that was where I really struggled. I followed along as Michael explained several formulas and how to use them. I even tried them out in Excel so that I knew that I would be familiar with each one.

On test day, I was a little apprehensive because of my previous failure. As I began the test, I found that the improvements made to the testing environment were really helpful. It was a lot more streamlined and much easier to navigate.

I worked my way through the test and soon reached the end of the list. I was amazed. In my first attempt I ran out of time before I completed the entire list. This time I actually had time left to review and make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Although I was a little unsure of myself, I clicked the finish button and awaited my results. I was shocked. Not only did I pass, but I received a score of 942 out of 1,000. My previous score was 691. What a difference training makes!

My next adventure will be with Word certification. My first stop on this adventure will be LearnKey’s Word 2013 training.



Newest Employee of the month always a step ahead!

by Jeff - Dec 02, 2014


Beau Shakespear

As we go into the holiday month of December it gives me great pleasure in recognizing our newest Employee of the Month. It has been a treat to watch him develop and grow over the past year into a true example of someone who demonstrates our core values (ease, value, and trust) each and every day. So please join me in congratulating one of my favorite team members, Beau Shakespear, our marketing and trade show coordinator, as this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month.

Beau has become someone who not only gets the job done on time every time, but really “stays ahead” by anticipating the needs of his customers, our employees, sales, and marketing teams. He displays a true “can do” attitude and is  extremely easy to work with and has such an honest and caring demeanor. Trust me, we throw a lot of changes his way, such as: last minute hotel/travel revisions ( I am the biggest offender), urgent updates to our course release schedule, revising our course catalogs, trade show changes, and he does it all with a smile and never a sign of any frustration.

Because of this he has established a high level of trust with everyone in our company, brings tremendous value to our operating groups, and has the respect of not only our employees and leadership team, but also our LearnKey partners.

Take a minute to learn some fun facts about Beau and his family:

1. How many children do you have? One, Kezia Mae Shakespear
2. Who is your best friend and why? Definitely my wife. She puts up with me and we basically have telepathy. And we are constantly finishing each others… sandwiches? (two movie/tv show references right there =) )
4. Name your wife’s favorite restaurant? Spicy Tuna. A sushi restaurant in Vegas.
5. What is it that you like most about your job and why? I love that I really never know what I am going to be doing each day. Also I really enjoy having the opportunity to work with all of the teams at LearnKey.
6. Who at LearnKey have you learned the most from? Hands down, Kim Johnson. Whenever there is a work decision I have to make I think W.W.K.D (What Would Kim Do)? But seriously she has taught me so much and helped me get the marketing team on track.
7. Name a place you want to take your wife for vacation? My wife would love to go to Ireland.
8. What is your ideal dream job in the next five (5) years? I need to win the lottery or find a rich relative. Because I would love to be a stay-at-home-dad. Kezi has me wrapped around her finger and I am totally fine with that. =) In reality I love my current job. I would like to see the marketing department grow and be doing some kick butt campaigns, high web sales, active social media presence, while promoting and protecting the LK brand.
9. Name your favorite meal to cook? I can make a mean pot of Gumbo.
10. IF you won a million dollars, name a cause or not for profit you would donate a portion of that to? There is an orphanage in Guaymas, Mexico that I have spent time at. I would makes sure they were taken care of.

Again, please join me in congratulating Beau as this month’s BLS/LearnKey employee of the month, and now I am off to buy him lottery tickets in hopes of him winning the lottery, becoming a stay at home dad, and spending time with his lovely wife and daughter!

Happy Holidays!

 

 



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Thanksgiving

by Brad - Nov 25, 2014


This Thursday and Friday, LearnKey offices will be closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. LearnKey offices will return to regular hours of operation 12/1/2014.

While many early groups of settlers observed a yearly day of thanksgiving after their arrival in the New World, the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday is generally attributed to those colonists known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing religious persecution in England, the Pilgrims originally settled in Leiden, Holland. Fearful of losing their cultural identity through long association with the Dutch people, the Pilgrims eventually left Holland and sailed to the New World aboard the Mayflower.

In late November of 1620, the colonists arrived in what is now known as Provincetown Harbor. They organized the first government of the new colony through a contract later known as the Mayflower Compact, signed by forty-one adult male passengers, two of whom – Degory Priest and George Soule – are my ancestors. The Mayflower Compact allowed for democratic voting and as been called the world’s first written constitution.

By December, most of the colonists on the Mayflower had become ill and were suffering from scurvy. A small group began exploring the shore for a place to found their new settlement, eventually choosing on an abandoned native village which they named New Plymouth. The first home constructed became a hospital for the sick, and by March only 47 of the original 102 colonists had survived.

During the first year, the colonists made friends with the native people, who shared supplies with the newcomers and taught them how to grow corn. In late September or October of 1621, the surviving Pilgrims invited their native friends to a three-day feast to celebrate their harvest. This feast is traditionally known as the First Thanksgiving.

We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and hope everyone has plenty to be thankful for!

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)



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American Education Week

by Brad - Nov 19, 2014


Education Week Header

This week is American Education Week. First held in 1921, American Education Week was founded by the National Education Association and the American Legion. In the following years, sponsors grew to include the U.S. Department of Education and dozens of other national education organizations. American Education Week is always celebrated the week before the week of Thanksgiving.

In the words of United States President Barack Obama:

“Every young person deserves access to a world-class education. In classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories across America, high-quality education helps unlock the limitless potential of our Nation’s students and creates pathways for their success. It prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow and the responsibilities of citizenship. A strong school system bolsters our economy and strengthens our democracy, and it is at the core of the American belief that with hard work, anyone can get ahead. During American Education Week, we celebrate the devoted educators who instruct and inspire students of all ages, and we continue our work to provide every person with the best education possible…

With grit and passion, America’s teachers give life to education’s promise. Our education-support professionals help ensure the health, well-being, and success of our children. And in small towns and large cities, principals and district administrators cultivate communities that value learning and share a common vision of academic excellence. Together, these leaders encourage our students to reach higher and inspire them to achieve their dreams. Great educators and administrators deserve all the tools and resources they need to do their job, including chances for professional development and pay that reflects the contributions they make to our country. They are the most critical ingredients in any school…

In a complex world, we must meet new and profound challenges. As a Nation, we must prepare the next generation to face these issues and the problems of their own time. An education equips the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and vision they need to discover the solutions of the future and build a better society for their children and grandchildren. This week, we honor the teachers, mentors, and professionals who guide our kids as they explore the world. Let us recommit to supporting a first-class education for all students, from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

Take time this week to thank those who work in education and celebrate their contributions to the growth of our society.



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New Course Release – Security+ (SY0-401)

by Beau - Nov 17, 2014


We are excited to be releasing our new Security+ course. This course is perfect for those who are working to move forward in their IT career or keeping their skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Security+ (SY0-401)

In LearnKey’s Security+ course students will develop their understanding of network administration by gaining this CompTIA certification. Students will develop an understanding of network administration and will learn how to secure and manage all facets of a network from CPU cycles to software used by individuals or across a network. Security+ is the next level to attain certification for every IT network administrator.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed. For more information and additional LearnKey products visit our website.



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