A Triple Dose of MTA

by Jason - Jan 08, 2016


Hello everyone, and from my desk at LearnKey to yours, a very Happy New Year! Now, with a new year comes new ideas, new challenges, and here at LearnKey, new courses. One series of courses we are focused on for the early part of 2016 is the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) series of certifications. An MTA certification is a great way to gain an entry-level Microsoft certification and put you ahead of others in this ever-increasing competitive world of IT positions.

To start the year, we have just released the MTA Mobility and Device Fundamentals (Exam 98-368) course. This course covers using Windows on multiple devices with the primary focus being the Surface family of tablets. But, trust me when I say you do not need a Surface tablet to take this course. Any laptop or tablet running Windows 8.1 will do. In addition, you will learn about tools administrators use to host these devices, both corporate and personal, in a corporate environment.

Another MTA course coming early in 2016 is the MTA Cloud Fundamentals (Exam 98-369) course. This course will show you how to enable and manage Microsoft cloud services, administer Office 365, administer Microsoft Intune, and support cloud users.

Both of these courses and certifications represent the growing IT industry concept of people-centric rather than device-centric computing. It was not that long ago that most employees in a corporation had one device, either a desktop or a laptop. And, their data was kept either on that device or on a network server. Fast forward to 2016.

Now, most employees view data on many devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Some of these devices are company-issued, and some are personally owned devices. With that, data needs to be more accessible both from inside and outside a company network. This is where the cloud storage and cloud environment features have come to the forefront of data management. So, having both the Mobility and Device Fundamentals and Cloud Fundamentals certifications will show that you are keeping up with the times.

The third MTA course we will be releasing early in 2016 is the MTA HTML5 Fundamentals (Exam 98-375) course. This course will cover building HTML5-based apps using HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript.

All three of these courses will contain several hours of video-based instruction, a robust workbook full of hands-on exercises, and pre-assessment and post-assessment tests that are geared specifically to ready you for these MTA exams.

So, if you are looking for a first goal of 2016, why not make that goal an MTA certification? Good luck with all you set out to do in 2016.


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Adobe Exam Changes Part 2 – Knowing More Than Just the Program

by Jason - Dec 17, 2015


Hello everyone! Not long ago, I shared with you some changes Adobe is making to their suite of Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) exams.

So, to get a first-hand look at the new exam format, I went and took the Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 exam for Windows. Now, mind you, it’s been :::covering my mouth::: years since I last took an Adobe exam, but I wanted to see what these new “scenarios” on the Adobe exams were all about. Plus, I had seen and heard some chatter from online forums and the like about how vastly different this exam is compared to previous Adobe exams. Given that part of my role as senior instructor here is to make sure we stay on top of exam changes, I took the plunge and took the exam.

And, yes, the exam has changed. But, the changes, in my humble opinion, were not drastic. I say that because though some questions look a little different, and yes, there are scenarios to go through, the core of any certification exam is still present. And that core is: Know the objectives and know ALL of the objectives!

Here is an example: Let’s look at the first domain of the Adobe Photoshop ACA 2015 objectives:

Domain 1.0 Setting Project Requirements
1.1 Identify the purpose, audience, and audience needs for preparing images.
1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of standard copyright rules for images and image use.
1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of project management tasks and responsibilities.
1.4 Communicate with others (such as peers and clients) about design plans.

Now, this is taken straight from the exam objectives as published on Adobe’s website. Someone studying Photoshop might be so focused on Photoshop that this domain just gets glossed over. And then, when a project question comes up on the test, the first thought is “uh-oh” or something worse.

And, with the scenario-based questions becoming a part of the Adobe exams, take a wild guess what types of questions are parts of these scenarios? I’ll give you a hint: Domain one. Besides, in order to be a Photoshop expert, shouldn’t one know what to do with meeting audience needs and know about copyrights and be able to work with others (like clients) on projects?

My point is, just knowing a program forward and backward is not enough to have a valid certification. For Microsoft Project, you need to know how a project manager operates, not just how to read a cost report. For Microsoft Access, you need to know how to structure a database, not just know how to change a field to a long date format. For Windows Server, you need to be able to design a server solution, not just know how to set up DHCP.

And, for the Photoshop ACA certification, you need to know how a Photoshop project is managed start to finish, not just how to change colors on someone’s shirt using a nondestructive method (yes, you need to know that, too).

So, resist the temptation to just ignore or gloss over test objectives that are not directly related to the program you are studying. In doing so, you will have a much better chance of passing an exam and, you will be a start-to-finish expert in the area you are certified in, not just a I-can-do-this-in-the-program person.


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A+ 900 Series and End-of-Year Exam Goals

by Jason - Dec 02, 2015


Hello, it’s me, your humble senior instructor hoping you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I sure did because my football team gave me a nice birthday present with a victory over the weekend!

So, today I want to update you on a couple of items we brought up in previous blogs. First, during the first half of our filming the A+ 900 series, Brad asked me a few questions about the course, which I attempted to answer. Now, we are wrapping up filming on the second half of the A+ course, so I can fill you in on some more details.

First, we are going to be releasing this course in two parts: one for each of the 900 series exams (220-901 and 220-902 for those of you who live by exam numbers). Both will be released early in 2016, about a month apart. We are going to this model of one course for each exam for one reason: to keep your focus on one exam and not worry when studying about which topic is on which test.

Secondly, in addition to the pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, the courses will have several mini-quizzes in the middle. On many occasions, after a unit is complete you will see my smiling face asking a review question. This will give you a chance to pause (or rewind), think of an answer, and then see how you are progressing with the material. I know when I am studying for an exam, I like to have a lot of reinforcement of the material, so we are doing plenty of it in this course.

Thirdly, I do believe you will find some of the segments quite entertaining as well as educational. How can a topic like A+ be entertaining, you wonder? Well, you will just need to find out when the course is released.

That’s my update on A+. Before I go, I want to give you a gentle reminder on a very cool Microsoft promotion. It is called the Second Shot promotion and it is good until January 16. Basically, it means for any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam you take between now and January 16, if you happen to not pass the exam, you get a second chance at it for free! For those of you who tend to put off taking an exam because you are not sure if you know the material well enough, what better way to find out than to basically take a free shot at one? I know I will be taking advantage of this in the next few weeks.

Well, I hear the “let’s go film” call so I will talk to you all later. Be well and take care.


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Adobe Exam Changes – Some Are Here, Some Are On The Way!

by Jason - Nov 25, 2015


Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you are traveling (I am not, thankfully). If you are studying for any Adobe CC 2015 exam, you will want to pull up a chair and read this carefully because the Adobe CC 2015 exams have changed and changed a lot!

When I first took an Adobe exam (Photoshop CS3 and you can figure out how long ago that was if you have an abacus), about half of the questions were multiple choice and the other half were simulations. The simulations were tasks I had to complete, in the program, such as doing a Gaussian Blur or using one of the many tools available in Photoshop to transplant one piece of a picture to another, such as replacing bad grass with healthy grass.

Now, Adobe is rolling out a new exam format. In this exam format, the exams are much more scenario-based, to where instead of having one task to perform in a situation, you have several tasks to perform, all tied to the simulation.

While this makes for a much more realistic knowledge test for the exam (which, having taken a lot of exams in a lot of disciplines, I happen to like), it is a big adjustment, especially for those who have taken a few Adobe exams and/or are studying for an Adobe CC 2015 exam.

We at LearnKey are always trying to stay on top of these changes. One way in which we are going to start doing this (and continue doing for many areas, not just Adobe) is to add practice labs, tailored to the new exam format. We will be adding some Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 practice labs to our website in the coming weeks. And, as other exams are updated, we will add labs for those. This will help bridge the gap between our current courses and a new Adobe series, which we have in our plans for 2016. But we are not going to make you wait for good exam practice material just because a test format changes.

In addition to the labs, we will, as needed, update our current workbooks to match up with any objective changes and test format changes in these new exams.

These tools will give you, the student, the latest and greatest preparatory materials needed to become successful in your certification quest for Adobe or, for that matter, any certification you are pursuing.


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PMP Exam Changes Coming Early Next Year

by Jason - Nov 18, 2015


Tis the season of certification updates. Earlier this year, we released a brand new Network+ course to follow the new Network+ exam. And, we are working on new courses for CISSP and A+, as we have detailed in recent blogs.

Soon, we will be adding to our course updates the new Project Management Professional (PMP)® course. PMP® is the most widely recognized project management certification in the industry. And, to keep up with the ever-changing theories and practices of project management, the Project Management Institute will be updating their PMP® exam early next year. For those of you who are familiar with the PMP® certification, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® is not changing, but the tasks on the exam are changing.

What is also not changing is our expert extraordinaire for this course. We are very pleased to bring back Michael Solomon, the LearnKey expert who delivered the previous PMP® course, to bring you all up to speed on what the new exam will look like.

The new PMP® course will, in addition to Michael’s expertise, contain hundreds of practice test questions in the form of pre-assessment and post-assessment test questions, all with the goal of preparing you for what many have described is a very “wide” exam in that the topics can be very wide-ranging.

The PMP® certification is not built for new project managers. In fact, PMI requires, depending upon your college education, the equivalent of about two to five years of project management experience. The benefits of obtaining a PMP® are many. First, with the requirements of project management experience just to sit for the exam, having a PMP® proves that you are an experienced project manager. Secondly, the average starting salary of a PMP®, according to several web-based sources, is 15-20% higher than that of a project manager without a PMP® certification.

Finally, the methods and structure used to manage projects using what you learn in the PMP® exam will prove much value and clarity in any project you manage. So, if you have project management experience and have been deciding when you should pursue your PMP® certification, let 2016 be the year!


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LearnKey Veteran Services Student Resources

by Tristan - Nov 05, 2015


This is a public service announcement to all students that are serious about being successful in the LearnKey Veteran Services program. There are a multitude of steps that are required if one expects to be successful, not only from a program, but a test-by-test perspective as well.  Unless you have an extensive background in the IT field, each one of these exams will be uniquely challenging, particularly if this information is fairly new to you. It would be a very bold assumption that 20 hours of OnlineExpert and CertMaster alone will be enough to have you as prepared as you can possibly be. Ironically it’s the exact opposite. You will have to be as resourceful as you possibly can if you expect to be adequately prepared.

Our team has put together a really great Student Resource Center to provide you with the resources to help you succeed. We have two weekly study group sessions every Tuesday from 11am – 12pm MST and every Thursday from 3:30pm – 4:30pm MST. There are also monthly newsletters, certification guides, workbooks, and practice labs.  For most people (including me) it’s going to take a combination of making use of the above-listed resources mixed with a bit of determination and tenacity to make it through, but it’s up you to seek out and find your individual blueprint for preparing. Myself, along with David and Ed, have been in the same boat that you are in now, and we can help guide you through, but the effort has to be there if you expect to succeed.

Your number one source of information should be the forum/Student Resource page. That is where all of the resources that we provide are located. Outside of CertMaster and OnlineExpert.com, if there are any resources that I have used, heard good things about, or found to help me prepare for an exam, that is where it can be found.

Recent additions to the forum include:

  • A link to the practical labs on our Student Resource Page (Net+)
  • Subnetting/CIDR Video (Net+)
  • CompTIA Blacklisted training link (CompTIA)
  • Accommodation of disabilities application link (CompTIA)
  • Student recaps of recently taken exams

This is not an easy program to complete. I stumbled along my path and I expect others to do the same, but I’m also proof that there is a finish line, and that it is accessible if you are willing to maintain the focus and put in the work. There is a countless amount of helpful information sitting not only in the forum, but on the Internet as well, readily available 24/7. You only have to apply yourself and seek it out. I strongly warn against making the mistake of taking this program lightly, because there is a good chance that you will become overwhelmed pretty quickly if you do.


Behind the Scenes of A+: Q&A with Jason Manibog

by Brad - Oct 23, 2015


With the release date just a few months away, our new CompTIA A+ certification course, featuring LearnKey expert Jason Manibog, began filming this week. I was in the studio on Wednesday taking some behind-the-scenes photos, and had an opportunity to ask Jason some questions about the new course.

How long have you been teaching A+?
Eight years, give or take a few months on either side.

What steps did you take in preparing for this course?
I went back and looked at notes for all of the times I taught the current course (the 2012 objectives) and then studied hard on what is new in the 2015/2016 version. Plus, I try diligently to keep up with answering this question: What does a PC/device technician need to know how to do these days? That answer is a lot different now than even three or four years ago. This new A+ course will really reflect that. For the course itself, we established a theme behind the course (you will have to wait to see it) and we think this “theme” really matches up well with not only getting one prepared for a job as a technician, but to (of course) pass the A+ certification.

How long will the new A+ course be?
Long enough to cover our goals for the course: to get one job-ready for a computer technician position but also prepare well for and pass the A+ exam. The actual lengths of the courses are: 8 hours for 220-901 with a 180-page workbook and 15+ hours for 220-902 with a 200+ page workbook. The length of time it takes a student to complete the course is determined by the student. It all depends on how much time one is willing to put into watching the video portion of the course and doing the practice exercises, labs, and tests.

How will this A+ course differ from the 2012 course?
Besides the new exam numbers (220-901 and 220-902)? First of all, there will be two distinct courses as there are two distinct exams. I (and many others in the industry) really believe that to best prepare for the test, one should focus on one test at a time. These courses will reflect that. We are also covering the material just about in the exact order as presented by CompTIA. This will make it easier for anyone taking this course to study the test objectives pretty much line-by-line. Finally, this course will simply reflect what has changed in the computer industry since 2012. Just as one example, mobile devices are far more prevalent now than they were even four years ago. So a technician needs to know how to support these devices and the different operating systems used in these devices.

What resources will the new A+ training include to help students pass the exams?
Besides the video portion, this course will include a very robust workbook full of information to review the test objectives, keys to passing the tests, and most importantly practice exercises. If there is one big tip I can give anyone trying to pass a certification test, it’s this: PRACTICE the test objectives. Each course will have a robust project workbook full of tables of information, a review of the concepts covered in the exam objectives, and plenty of practice exercises, all geared toward preparing for the A+ exams. Plus, we will have, for each of the two courses, several hundred practice test questions in the form of pre-assessments and post-assessments. Finally, we will have practice labs to use to further enhance the skills needed to pass the exams and do an outstanding job as a computer technician.

What is your favorite part (so far) of the new A+ course?
Without a doubt, my co-workers. From the storyboard team that helped me design this course, to the input from sales and technical support, to the writing and quality control teams and, last but certainly not least, the video production crew here in Salt Lake City, who are as professional as they get yet keep me laughing every minute.

Aaron, Mer, and Jason

Aaron, Mer, and Jason

Jordan and Rob


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Project 2013 Exam Prep (74-343) Course – Coming Soon!

by Jason - Sep 25, 2015


At LearnKey, we are always striving to produce the best and most innovative courses possible.  In line with this, we are excited to announce that we will be adding to our library some exam prep courses. These courses are short in nature (two hours or less) and are focused on one task– to help you get that last bit of confidence you need to pass a certification exam.

The first course in this series is an exam prep course for Project 2013, specifically for exam 74-343, Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013. This is meant to be a complementary course to LearnKey’s Project 2013 course, authored by LearnKey expert Michael Solomon. This exam prep course will focus on each exam objective, line by line, and will get you the last bits of information you need to confidently walk into the testing room and walk out with a Project 2013 certification. Whereas Michael Solomon did an excellent job covering Project 2013 wall-to-wall, this course focuses on the detailed aspects of the Project 2013 (74-343) exam.

Over the next several months, many of our courses (especially the larger courses such as A+ 220-901 and A+ 220-902) will feature a session strictly devoted to final exam prep tips. Do keep in mind that these exam prep courses, or sessions, are not a replacement for the actual course. They are meant to be one of the final pieces of your obtaining a certification, along with, of course, post-test assessments, and real, hands-on practice in the application for which you are pursuing a certification.

Be on the lookout in the next month for the Project 2013 Exam Prep course. In the meantime, stay tuned to this spot to see news on future exam prep courses. You do not have to wait for this course to get solid exam prep advice. If you have not seen the blog we posted last week on test-taking tips, go check it out.


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IC3 GS5: Living Online Training and Assessment

by Wyett - Sep 10, 2015


The third and final course in LearnKey’s new IC3 GS5 training series, IC3 GS5: Living Online, will soon be…online!

The Living Online course covers Internet and browser basics, rights and digital citizenship, email, calendars, and other communication technologies—all based on the concepts outlined in the IC3 GS5 objectives.

  • The course is split into eight sections that group areas of the exam objectives together to help you better focus and plan your studies.
  • You may have different email, browser, or messaging apps than those demonstrated in the course—that’s okay, the concepts will be very similar across multiple apps be sure to practice using whatever apps you have.
  • This course covers a lot of conceptual material. Be sure to use the search and other browser techniques to discover more—you’ll be practicing for the exam and learning something new!
  • The project workbook, which accompanies the course, offers further practice with the concepts discussed in the course. Be sure to use this resource to refine your skills.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the course:

  • Pace yourself—if something isn’t clear or you didn’t quite follow the demonstration, pause, rewind and review the section. Don’t rush the training, it’ll be there for you when you’re ready.
  • Take a break—as with pacing, taking a break can help you keep your focus and help you better retain the information you’re learning.
  • Be sure to take notes—there may be topics that you’re less sure about. That’s okay. Use your notes to help you focus on areas to review or to guide your use of the project workbook.
  • Set a reasonable deadline for completion—be honest with the time you have available and how well you’re progressing through the training and plan a date to take your exam.

Living Online is part of the day-to-day of modern living, so preparing for the IC3 exam gives you more than just the benefit of exam prep, it gives you skills for life! Good luck on your exam!


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IC3 GS5 Training: Learn About IC3 GS5 Computing Fundamentals

by Wyett - Sep 03, 2015


Joining our recently released IC3 GS5: Key Applications Course, I am excited to introduce our soon to be released IC3 GS5: Computing Fundamentals course.

The Computing Fundamentals course covers hardware and Internet basics, mobile devices, troubleshooting, cloud computing, security, and more!—all tied to the concepts outlined in the IC3 GS5 objectives.

  • The course is split into eight sections that focus on specific areas of the exam objectives to help you focus your studies.
  • Actual devices are shown during the course in simple scenarios that demonstrate basic connections and settings.
  • The project workbook, which accompanies the course, offers further practice with the concepts discussed in the course. Be sure to use this resource to refine your skills.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the course:

  • Pace yourself—if something isn’t clear or you didn’t quite follow the demonstration, pause, rewind, and review the section. Don’t rush the training; it’ll be there for you when you’re ready.
  • Take a break—as with pacing, taking a break can help you keep your focus and help you better retain the information you’re learning.
  • Where possible, practice with your own hardware to solidify the concepts demonstrated in the course.
  • Be sure to take notes—there may be topics that you’re less sure about. That’s okay. Use your notes to help you focus on areas to review or to guide your use of the project workbook.
  • Set a reasonable deadline for completion—be honest with the time you have available and how well you’re progressing through the training and plan a date to take your exam.

The Computing Fundamentals course covers topics that will benefit you beyond your exam preparation. Have fun and good luck!


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