Newest EOM helps veteran students realize their potential!

by Jeff - Feb 04, 2015


You can always tell when someone loves their job. It’s not in what they say, it’s the results they achieve, and this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month is Susan Havens, a Veteran Services Representative who has a passion for helping students.  This is evident in the way she supports the sixty-five (65) plus students she works with who are going through our Blue Ocean IT & Career Ready program!

Even though Susan has only been with LearnKey for four (4) months she brings passion, commitment, and discipline to her job each and every day. Her manager had this to say during her nomination:

Susan Havens

“Susan has done an amazing job taking the roll of supporting our Veteran Students, and has really helped mentor and motivate them to stay on track and achieve their goals. She is a true display of our core values by earning trust from her team members that she is going to follow through on any task she is given and is an absolute professional when it comes to customer service. We truly value her ability to dig in and figure out how to complete a task on time and she makes it easy for students to like her as she is always engaging with them frequently to ensure they are moving along in their coursework and removing any challenges they face”.

We strive to make LearnKey a fun place to work and Susan fits right in with her funny personality and natural “can do” approach to supporting other team members. Take a minute to get to know the personal side of Susan through this fun Q&A:

  1. How many siblings do you have? I am number 3 out of 3 brothers and 4 sisters.
  2. What is your favorite movie? The older comedies because they aren’t so crude…like “The Man Who Knew too Little,” “Grumpy Old Men,” the “Vacation” Movies w/ Chevy Chase, and “What About Bob.”
  3. What is your favorite band? I love the 80’s Rock Bands…like Chicago, 38 Special, Foreigner, and Aerosmith.
  4. What is your favorite vacation spot? The central coast in California Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, San Louis Obispo area. Still a quiet beach community.
  5. What was your High School Mascot? A Porterville Panther.
  6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Honestly, I avoid weird foods at all costs! I’m not a big fan of weird or things that are considered NOT food. I will eat most anything, but weird.
  7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? My favorite pet was a little Chihuahua named Annie.
  8. What was your first car? A yellow Datsun B210 and my favorite car was a 76 Camaro when I was a senior in High School.
  9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I’ve been most everywhere, but I would really like to go to Italy and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Rome and Jerusalem and Greece.
  10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? I would probably have a higher percentage of survival zip lining.
  11. What is the funniest thing you have heard working here? Nothing specific, but I work with a bunch of witty people who crack me up everyday.
  12. If you could eat dinner with anyone past, present, or future who would it be? Bill Murray. He cracks me up and I love his sense of humor!

Please join me in congratulating Susan on being our February 2015 employee of the month, and now that I know she does not eat weird food so much for her trying my home made Chili!.


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New Course Release: Windows 8.1 Configuration

by Beau - Jan 30, 2015


In LearnKey’s Windows 8.1 Configuration course students will learn what’s new in the latest Microsoft operating system: Windows 8.1. Join LearnKey expert Tom Carpenter as he covers topics such as upgrading to Windows 8.1, remote access, mobility, and more! Once you understand the new features and changes in this OS, you will see that it is a pleasure to work with.

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


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Spanish IC3 and Me

by Brad - Jan 21, 2015


Not long ago, LearnKey released a course on IC3 GS4 with Spanish audio and English text. The course was designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing their native language while seeing the computer terms in English.

A couple of months ago, the decision was made to revamp this course by converting all of the graphics into Spanish. This new course is designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing and seeing computer terms and practices in full Spanish. As a result of this decision, I spent most of the last two weeks reviewing the English version of IC3 and recapturing all of the screen captures using Spanish versions of Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite.

I have captured several courses over the years, including both the full screen and widescreen versions of English IC3 GS4, but this experience was a little different and more complicated than what I had gone through in the past.

To begin with, I don’t speak Spanish. When I was in high school and had to choose a foreign language class, I chose to take French. I was heavily involved in theater and thought French would serve me better in the performing arts than Spanish. About the only Spanish I know is the little bits and pieces I picked up watching “Dora the Explorer” with my daughter nearly a decade ago.

After getting the Spanish versions of Windows and all the software I needed installed, it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of things. Whenever I clicked on the wrong items, I couldn’t read the screen to tell where I was and how to get back to where I wanted to be. Luckily I was able to use the English course as a reference, and I eventually learned that if I worked really hard ahead of time to memorize the look of the icons I needed it was easier not to get lost. I also found that using an online translator was invaluable. The translations probably weren’t perfect, but they were close enough to help me understand what the buttons and error messages said whenever I found myself off course.

Now before anyone out there gets the wrong idea about this course, I’m just a minor cog in the great machine which is working on this course. After I finished the screen captures, I sent them on to the design team, several members of which are fluent in Spanish. My screen captures will be thoroughly reviewed and any mistakes I may have made will be sent back for me to recapture. After the design team finishes reviewing my files and translating the rest of the course graphics into Spanish, the course will be put through a rigorous quality control process to catch any leftover mistakes.

Stay tuned for the release of IC3 Global Standard 4 – Full Spanish in the next couple of months.


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Newest EOM keeps LearnKey looking good!

by Jeff - Jan 08, 2015


Join me in welcoming in 2015!

Its always exciting to start a new year especially when you have a great team.  No better way to do that than talking about our great people. So it gives me great pleasure to announce our first 2015 BLS/LearnKey employee of the month, JJ Embleton, who is our lead on the LearnKey production design team.

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JJ’s job is not easy as he plays a key role in making sure our course designs are modern, effective, and drive learning engagement. A great example is the work he did around our Security+ course the end of last year and how he lead the team fostering creativity and providing feedback.  Here is what his nominating leader had to say about his efforts:

“It’s hard to choose just one course where JJ has exceeded my expectations as there have been several courses over the past six months where the Design team has had to meet crazy tight deadlines, Flash CC included. He ensures the courses we are releasing are up to the standard we have come accustomed, all while rallying the team alongside him. He does this with his strong organizational skills and a relentless positive attitude of ‘it may be hard, but we can do it.'”

We are fortunate to have JJ as part of our team and along with being a great co-worker we wanted to share a little about his personal life. So take a minute to get to know him through this fun Q&A:

1. How many siblings do you have? One Brother and one sister both younger.

2. What is your favorite movie? Haha! It changes about every week for me but right now it is Big Hero 6.

3. What is your favorite band? That is also another one that changes often, but I have been listening to a lot of Archive lately.

 4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with good vistas and good hikes. I love hiking with my family!

 5. What was your high school’s mascot? The Panthers.

 6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? I don’t know if it is exactly food, but recently when I was super sick and probably doped up on cold medicine, I mixed Grape Airborne with milk… It ended up being pretty good.

 7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Tango. He was a Yellow Labrador I had pretty much all through growing up.

 8. What was your first car? 1998 Ford Taurus

9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I would love to go anywhere in the Scandinavian/Icelandic regions.

 10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Sky dive.

11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? “Mmm, hot brownie…in my mouth”

 12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? My Grandpa Chuck. I knew him well when I was younger but he passed away and I think it would be really fun to get to know him better as an adult.

Please join me in congratulating JJ on his recent success and thanking him for his contributions to our great team!

Sincerely,

Jeff Coruccini

 


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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: https://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.