We had a great company all hands video conference call yesterday. Just so nice to see everyone, celebrate some of our successes YTD, welcome new team members and announce our 3rd Quarter Key Contributor Award Winner. Just like our previous KCA winner, this person is someone truly having a positive impact on our students.
When we talk about our “Why” Improving employability every day and our core values Ease, Value and Trust this individual is someone all of us have become to respect and appreciate the great work she does helping our students to ensure they are qualified and ready to onboard into our IT Certification Pathways programs. She is very respectful and easy to get along with, has brought tremendous value as an individual and team contributor and someone who has earned the trust of everyone she works with at LearnKey as well as the counselors we serve.
Which is why it gives me great honor to announce that Jade Brown was the recipient of our Key Contributor Award winner this quarter.
Over the last year and a half Jade has implemented, streamlined and improved our enrollment process by developing a vetting process to ensure our students are qualified to be in our program. In addition she is directly responsible from growing this role into a team. Her hard work has directly correlated to having more successful & motivated students/learners better qualified to start are programs. Jade is the type of team players that has a great attitude and ” will do whatever it takes to get the job done” .
Organizationally, Jade took the lead and wrote training manuals and SOP’s for new LK team members so they can successfully onboard in the enrollment department. Her leader, Kelly had this to say “We have great LK team members but man I believe Jade is one of the hardest workers we have” Couple that with her professionalism and courtesy we congratulate you Jade on this great accomplishment.
We all know this has been a challenging year and it’s so exciting to know that we can have some peace of mind in knowing we are making a difference in people’s lives during these times.
Whether its knowing that we helped over forty-six (46) of our students get hired, or helping a student get certified, offering free employability skills training for those unemployed, or assisting the counselors and teachers that are dealing with allot of stress and challenges, yes we have those challenges too, however, they way our team has come together to handle these situations makes me truly proud of each and everyone one of our team members. Our Senior Instructor also had us excited about the current course (IT fundamentals) he and the production team are working on, listening to his passion really made all of us appreciate the hard work that goes into producing courses like this one.
Staying connected during these times is important and we will continue to do that. Today was nice and tomorrow will be better.
Hello, everyone. At the beginning of each year we set internal goals and one of my goals is to set the course order and career pathways we will pursue the coming year. Inevitably, demands and priorities change, and so do exam objectives for courses we plan on filming seemingly right before filming, but I digress.
One adjustment we have had to make is to update career tracks to reflect the ever-evolving Microsoft certification transitions from fundamental certifications to role-based certifications. The theory behind this is that certifications are more valuable when tied to a certain job role rather than just a cursory knowledge of a system. Personally, I think it is a great idea as this allows for those pursuing certifications to better target the areas of expertise they want.
That said, one of the main reasons for this career pathways adjustment, besides the fact that cloud computing is growing rapidly, is that as of January 31, 2021, all fundamental exams are being retired. This includes all exams starting with 70- and all MB- exams (for Microsoft Dynamics) as well.
With that said, allow me to present to you the highlights of all the career pathway changes:
NEW: Cloud Administrator
- Exams: Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), Azure Administrator (AZ-104), and Azure Security Engineer (AZ-500)
- This is replacing Windows Server 2012 MCSA (exams 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412)
- Reason: Microsoft is pushing Azure, its cloud infrastructure, heavily and the adoption rate is picking up speed
- Exams: Oracle Java Associate (1ZO-808), Flutter Certified Application Developer (AFD-200), and Azure Solutions Developer (AZ-204)
- These are replacing the soon-to-be-retired Microsoft programming exams (70-480, 70-483, and 70-486)
- This is a much “wider” track in that we have one general certification (Java), one for mobile app development (Flutter), and one for cloud (Azure)
NEW: Artificial Intelligence
- Exams: Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), Azure AI Fundamentals (AI-900), and Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution (AI-100)
- According to LinkedIn, 133 million jobs will touch AI-enabled automation by 2022
NEW: Database Professional
- Exams: Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), Azure Data Fundamentals (DP-900), and Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure (DP-100)
- This is an excellent track for someone looking to become a data analyst
NEW: Advanced Database Professional
- Exams: Implementing an Azure Data Solution (DP-200), Designing an Azure Data Solution (DP-201), and Administering Relational Databases on Microsoft Azure (DP-300)
- This basically replaces the MCSA for SQL Server
The timeframe for these tracks is from now to about 12 months from now for all of these and, per usual in the IT business, these are subject to change. But this should give you an idea as to how we are evolving our offerings to match with the best possible employability scenarios for you as you pursue your journey.
Hello again. Before I dive into the subject of the title above, allow me to personally wish all of you the best of health physically, mentally, and emotionally during these trying times. I take encouragement in seeing all sorts of news stories about those out there helping their fellow humans as much as possible. I know when I go to the store, I’m saying an extra thank you to every employee I see.
On to our subject. Whether you’re a college student, high school student, or adult learner and whether you are learning through our courseware or some basic subject courseware, learning online and in at least some kind of isolation is far different than learning in a traditional classroom. Having taught in both situations the past 20 years, I have three observations/hints that will hopefully help with the online learning modality:
- Mix it up
Online learning has many facets. Sure, you have the video portion as the focal point of the course, but many of these online courses have other materials, like quizzes, textbooks, and, for computer programs, the programs themselves. Change up the learning mode frequently. Many of our courses have a suggested lesson plan/study guide in the back of our workbooks that break up the lessons into video, practice, and workbook time. Use those as your guide. Too long on one medium and you will start to wander. When you feel yourself needing to mix it up, do it.
- Pace yourself
How long is a high school class session, typically? 45 minutes? 55 minutes? (It was 55 for me back in high school, I think. That was a long time ago.) Match each study session for each subject/course to that time. It is very difficult for anyone to be in learning mode for too long without a break. If you are not bound by time constraints, here is a good rule to follow: If you are starting to lose focus on what you are trying to learn, take a break. Get up, walk around, get a drink of water, do something. Now, you may be thinking, “but I study for 2-3 hours straight all the time.” Good for you if you can do that. But studying is different than learning. Studying, for the most part, is a reinforcement of that which you have learned. It takes much more intense concentration to learn something new and one’s attention span for that is usually smaller. If you don’t believe me, try learning something new (like cooking for me) for two hours straight and see how much you remember after the first 30-45 minutes. There are numerous articles online that will back this up and I invite you to research this if you wish.
- Test yourself
As you mix up your learning and pace your learning, test yourself often. I don’t mean take a quiz or take a test here. I mean see if you can do that which you have learned, if applicable. Let me give you two examples: If you just finished watching a section of a Word course on how to build a table, open Word and build a table or two and put some data in there you can relate to. If you just finished watching a section on adding adjustment layers in Photoshop, open Photoshop, get a picture to edit, and make your own adjustments to the picture. Many of these certification exams are hands-on, meaning that you must perform tasks. What better way to get some practice than to create and edit a project that relates to something you like? Just to drive the point home, when I needed to refresh my Adobe Premiere skills before teaching the course last year, I edited some footage of something to which I can relate: my golf swing. If only I could edit the swing itself…
I digress. The point is: learning online is indeed different from learning in the classroom but, absent of a live instructor, you can make the rhythm of learning online make you feel as if you are in a classroom, through mixing up the learning, going at a reasonable pace, and testing yourself often through getting some hands-on practice.
Our quarterly award (Key Contributor) is something we are very proud of at LearnKey. This person or team is recognized for exceeding expectations and or demonstrating our core values (Ease, Value and Trust). Our newest recipient is someone who has been with us for almost 5 ½ years, and here is an amazing number that we want all of you to know about her: two seventy-two (272). That number, 272, represents the total number of globally recognized industry certifications (i.e. Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Adobe, etc.) her students achieved in 2019. Take that number, along with her “can do” attitude, and you have our one and only Mrs. Susan Somerville.
Susan is Senior Student Services Representative. Someone who gets to see first-hand how our programs can touch and change people’s lives. She handles anywhere between 60-80 students at a time, helping them complete their online training on time, practice & study for exams, assisting them in coordinating any special tutoring needs, documenting and distributing monthly reports to counselors, the list goes on and on. She is someone who is always smiling and looking at the positive in everything, even when she has to give a student some “tough love” and remind them of their “Why” and motivator to complete our online programs. Her work directly impacts our students and their success in achieving their end goal: gaining employment. She has changed many people’s lives.
Here is what some of the leaders who nominated her had to say: “Susan has an amazing ability to help her students’ progress and is a pro at having the ‘hard conversations’ with them.” Another person said “she’s very helpful in our Cedar office, has a wonderfully positive attitude, and strives each day to help her students succeed.” Another added “she truly lives our mission of improving employability for her students, every day.”
When we presented Susan with the award she was actually spending the day in our St. George, UT office sharing best practices to some of our newer student service representatives so they can do their jobs as effectively.
Congratulations Susan for a job well done. Keep being present, doing your job, and making LearnKey better every day!
At LearnKey we like to start the new year fast. So 2020 is here and we are super happy we just completed one of our most important goals: LearnKey’s new Certification and Support Program catalog. This truly is our calling card, as it gives you the opportunity to learn and access the great courses, career pathways/programs, and support we offer through our national online vocational school and education as a service business we provide to businesses and strategic partners.
For 2020 we expanded and added over twenty (20) enhanced career pathways with multiple levels (i.e. entry & advanced) as our research continues to validate that these are high in-demand jobs that lead to upward mobility careers. Specifically, in the areas of Cyber-Security, Help Desk, Networking, Cloud, Programming, and System Administration.
We hope you enjoy our catalog as we are very proud on how we present our offerings, products, and services to those schools, counselors, and organizations who want to help learners get jobs. Another skill in demand is communication, and a course we are pleased to be releasing this month is Communication Skills for Business, which maps to one of the first globally recognized industry certifications offered through Certiport.
We at LearnKey believe our catalog is the purest example of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
Of course everyone knows our “Why” – Improving Employability Every Day
My father taught me many years ago to learn a trade or in-demand skill, as well as always have a plan “B”. In this day and age that is so important, especially for those in high school, going to college, or adults trying to obtain a well-paying job. It just so happens I took that advice back in the 80’s and learning my first skill/certification was how to use American Airlines “Sabre” reservation system. See, my trade was working in a travel agency. I learned reservations, ticketing, operations, business development, and sales.
Knowing and getting certified in multiple reservation systems like Sabre, United Airlines Apollo system, TWA’s PARS, and a few others allowed me to go from doing reservations to becoming a team lead, then operations supervisor, to Director, then V.P./General Manager. Yes, I was climbing the corporate ladder, even ran start-ups over my 30-year career.
But it all started with making sure I had skills. Now, in this day and age “first jobs” are on the cusp of being eliminated this article that speaks to “AI is replacing first jobs” which is very concerning but not surprising due to advances in technology. So now more than ever, I stress to everyone learn a skill/trade, get certified, so you can have a fall back plan “B”. College degrees are important, however, in today’s world so is getting certified in many fields such as: Technology, Allied Health, STEM, Legal, and many more.
The good news is its not just me advocating the importance of certifications. A recent Forbes article just came out titled “non-degree certificates and certifications are fast, cheap and effective”. This is a great read and while they are not necessarily cheap it validates how important non-degree certificates and globally-recognized industry certifications are in today’s workforce. Here are some key highlights of the article & survey which are sure worth sharing:
- Adults with a short-term certificate or industry-based certification were more likely to be employed (85%) than adults without such credentials (78%).
- Adults holding certificates reported their median annual income to be $45,000, compared to $30,000 for adults without any certificates.
- Among the non-degree adults with a certificate or certification, two-thirds were inclined to recommend the educational path they had followed to others, compared to less than half of the non-degreed adults without such credentials.
- Among certificate/certification holders, 60% believed their educational experiences made them more marketable to potential employers, compared to 44% of those who had not earned certificates or certifications.
At LearnKey we are all about “improving employability every day” and we do that through ensuring our message around “Learn a skill, Practice as part of your preparation, and get Certified” is loud and clear. The world is changing and now more then ever, you need to have a plan “B” and I have my father to thank for that!
LearnKey is excited for the new year and for us to continue to grow and exceed the goals we have around our “Why” – Improving Employability Every Day. This coming year we want to see hundreds of graduates from LearnKey and Brighton College gain employment through our learning systems, programs, and strategic partnerships.
You heard LearnKey partnering with Brighton College, yes, to kick off 2019, that is exciting news. Partnering with Brighton college is a great move for us because we cater to the same student demographic. Those students interested in New Collar Jobs. With our dual alignment with Career & Technical Education programs for Information Technology, Allied Health, Legal, and Business Management it becomes a way to leverage what both our organizations are good at, which is programs that lead to in demand jobs.
In the industry we saw strong growth in our K-12 Market and vocational rehabilitation programs. Globally recognized entry-level IT & Career Ready Industry Certifications are on the rise worldwide. We are seeing it first-hand and some of the most popular obtained from our student/learner demographic were tied to: Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) , IC3 Global Standard 5, which is the newest addition to the IC3 Digital Literacy program, CompTIA’s A+, N+, and S+, Adobe, Quickbooks, and Entrepreneurship Small Business. Like all other education organizations in Information Technology, Cybersecurity continues to see strong growth with our students and adult learners wanting streamlined programs for that career.
At LearnKey a Better Learning systems (check out our updated website) company, we have three big goals this year that tie directly to Improving Employability Every Day, and they are: Create a better student learning experience through upgraded learning management technology that our employees really want to use; second, do the exact same thing with our Student Information System (SIS 3.1 upgrade), again want happy employees who use our technology; and third, Improve the student progression success of our team members and students by 40%. This will drive a better learning experience which will lead to more graduates and more of our students getting hired!
Exciting times ahead of us to kick off 2019.
One of the most difficult jobs is one that requires a ton of travel. It can be extremely lonely and quite challenging with flight schedules, uncomfortable hotel beds, rental cars, and meeting people that are not always as passionate about their jobs as we are. That is not the case for our most recent Key Contributor Award winner – Kelly Woods. He travels no matter what weather conditions are on his journey.
See, Kelly is a Veteran, and his job is to meet with VA counselors and spread the word on how our programs help Veterans get jobs in IT, Cyber Security, Networking, Programming, Graphic Design, and Help Desk/Customer Service. When we say LearnKey truly is Improving Employability Every Day, Kelly is the face of that statement. He takes his job seriously and never hesitates to help out another Veteran or counselor when they inquire about our programs or if they need assistance along their journey. Our programs are not easy, which is why it’s important that Kelly does not mince words in that the program will be hard, but the reward will be great!
Of course Kelly attributes all our success to his supporting team members, which include the other Regional Representatives, LearnKey’s production and support teams, and the great job ready team and tutors, along with our student support representatives. It takes a team and Kelly takes pride in that he has a great team.
Thank you Kelly for your contributions and keeping our core values – EASE, VALUE and TRUST – top of mind.
Morocco and I had a rough start. That new normal I found in Vietnam, well, it turned into a dumpster fire. My suitcase broke, my phone broke, my phone was repaired, my phone broke again, Wi-Fi stopped working, cellular service was not available, my computer stopped charging.
It is unclear to me if it was Marrakesh or the series of unfortunate events, or a combination of both, but I was slow to warm to Morocco.
Views from the mall food court in Marrakesh
A small courtyard in the Medina, the old city markets in Marrakesh
I started working during the day again. It was hard to adjust to working during the sunshine. I was enjoying having days to explore and then nights to work, and/or sleep (which is optional during remote year).
The infamous tannery where all the raw animal hides are treated, dyed, and cut for various crafts. The smell was intense.
The landscape is reminiscent of a young, less developed southwestern United States; wild west with a mini-modern city stretched out, painted the same colors as the surrounding, scattered with a casino, an occasional tumbleweed, and a mall with a Chili’s. Baby back ribs, anyone? The old square is where most of the shopping happens. It is bursting with life! Jemaa el-fnaa, the medina or old city, is city jam-packed with trinkets, artisanal crafts, exotic foods, and spices.
Leather Baboosh, aka Moroccan slippers are very common artisanal crafts in the Medina.
I am blown away with the languages people speak, especially in the market! Arabic, French, English, Spanish! The majority of the people were at least bilingual, often trilingual. The best salesmen spoke, what seemed like every language and could guess where you were from just by looking at you.
In Taghazout, camels cruising the beach were just as common as tourists. For a small fee, you can go for a quick ride and take photos.
Breathtaking Sahara Desert.
Side trips (as we call them in Remote Year) included the surfing beaches in the north of Morocco like Taghazout and Agadir, and surfing sand dunes and camel rides in the Sahara Desert. Both adventures were incredible and reminded me that Morocco is way more than just the crazy whirlwind of Marrakesh. The natural beauty of Morocco is stunning and assisted
in opening me to the appeal of the country, but it never quite felt like home, even a temporary one.
Anyone for a magic carpet ride? Artisanal rugs made with the Fez blue cobalt.
During Ramadan, Moroccans fast between dawn and sunset as worship to God. Because there is no separation of church and state, it is illegal for a Moroccan to eat during the day. We have a couple of people in our RY group that could have been mistaken for Moroccans; they were advised to keep their passport on them in case an issue arose when they were eating or drinking in public.
Reminiscent to the dedication during Thaipusam in Malaysia (March’s blog), I am impressed by the dedication that our local friends have for their religion. They describe Ramadan as a time to reflect, become closer to God, and abstain from eating to unify the rich and the poor. I decided to try the fasting for two days.
Day one, I brushed my teeth for 10 minutes as an excuse to try and put moisture back into my mouth. I was sure not to ingest as that would be cheating. No water, no food, all day long. What was I thinking!? A few other girls in the group were fasting in solidarity and around 8:00 P.M. we all met at my apartment to break our fast. It was like Christmas. We sat around the table and enjoyed the traditional meals for breaking the fast. Dates, Harissa (Moroccan soup), milk, and Chebakia (a honey-soaked Moroccan cookie) filled our empty bellies. I thought we were all going to stuff our faces as fast as we could, but we each took time to taste every bite. We sat around for hours and chatted, and of course, drank as much water as we could fit around all the food. Day two was much easier. I had the traditional last meal before sunrise, which I did not do the first night. I stayed awake until 3:00 A.M. just to eat and drink one last time. I had an unusual amount of energy on day two and once fast broke, I only ate a few things. Dates, more cookies, and a small piece of chicken. It was an incredible experience, both challenging myself, and being able to relate to those fasting for an entire month.
Tajine all around! Also pictured is the Moroccan salad and the beautifully crafted Moroccan dishware.
In addition to the Ramadan foods, Morocco is filled with incredible flavors and diverse food selections.
Key Moroccan staples:
Tajines – a version of a Dutch oven and refers to any meats cooked over coals, low and slow.
Msemen – the BEST pancake, thin, soft, and pillow-y served with Amlou (almond butter with argon oil) and local honey.
The TEA! Mint tea, tea time is very important. It was a time to slow down and enjoy time with others. The higher you pour, the better.
The workspace was far away from our apartments and awkwardly quiet, I think I used it twice. I worked from home mostly as it took a lot of effort to go out as there was no Uber (this was the first location with out it), taxis seem to always want to swindle you, and I worked weird hours.
It was weird working during the day again. I found myself adjusting to work late into the evening without even meaning to. It may be that I am more productive at night, or I may have never adjusted to the local time.
Low Atlas Mountains passing through on the way to the Sahara. Reminded me of Sedona, AZ.
The final farewell to Marrakesh and our 100-day celebration (100 days of being on remote year), brought the community back together at the end of the month, which had seemed to be a little disconnected. With our sense of community revived, we set out for Croatia and a month by the sea.
Shukran & Au revoir!
I arrived in Vietnam on Saturday, March 31st! Hanoi is a busy, chaotic, energetic city exploding with eastern culture. It’s incredible, the kind of Asia I have been looking for. Until now, I have felt the previous destinations were so westernized, and have enjoyed them, but was looking for something with more shock.
Vietnam is that something more.
Everything in the city is risky. Crossing the street felt like you were swimming through a heavily populated school of fish but instead of water you are swimming through “zebra crossing,” in the concrete jungle and the fish are thousands of motor bikes that swarm around you. Stay at a steady pace and just keep walking, it may not comfortable for everyone, but once prepared, it is an energizing adrenaline rush. Eating street food is risky because of high potential for food poisoning or because of the police coming by to usher people and tiny tables off the sidewalk. If they came by in the middle of your meal, you would have to grab you table and food and pretend to move inside until they left. If you were lucky, they just did a quick drive by. In the previous cities we had Uber as a transportation option, here it is Grab Bike, a motor bike shared with a local driver. They offered a helmet so the risk of injury is slightly lessened, until they just drove on the wrong side of the road.
Because of the French colonization, the architecture is colonial, bursting with life down tiny alleyways, that would open to a beautiful maze of skinny, tall story homes where the ground floor served as their place of business and the floors above where the multi-generational families live. Each mini-street has a different craft, party city street, bike repair street, food street, lamp street, plastic container street, casket and flower street, small appliance street, like a Vietnamese version of Home Depot disorderly organized around the city.
The culture is a combination of everyone out for themselves and a strong sense of community. The sidewalks are where the community gathered. They were for everything but a walkway. Sidewalks were filled with live roosters, dead roosters, dogs chained up, crates filled with various small animals, millions of motor bikes both parked or driving around the obstacles, tiny baby furniture, blood, haircuts, shaves, markets, dead fish, you name it, it is happening on the sidewalk.
We were lucky enough to get out of the city we trekked through the wildly unexplored jungles and national parks. Jungles, trekking to the caves of Hang Va, where we learned of the Son Dong cave system that is still unmapped and mostly undiscovered. The caves we entered have been explored by less people than have summited Mount Everest.
During the trek to the caves I was overcome with emotion when I thought of the young Vietnamese and American soldiers trekking through the jungle during war. The thick overgrown jungle, sharp rock formations, and muddied ground made up the path that we followed. I couldn’t imagine fighting a battle in these conditions. Respect and admiration for our Vietnam war vets filled my heart.
Inspired when I returned to the city, I went to prison. The Hao Lo Prison, known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” where we saw pictures of the pleasant time the POWs had during their stay, like a lovely Christmas celebration, or friendly basketball and volleyball games, did not seem to add up when you compared that to the emaciated figures they had when they were released. Interesting perspective. I am sure the truth is somewhere between the American version and the Vietnamese version.
On the menu:
Street food is a must, Pho, Obama’s Bun Cha vs street Bun Cha, competition between Bahn Mi 25 and 14 (personally, 25 for the win),
Hanoi Social Club and Lifted Café are a delish break from eastern foods with items like mango French toast, Social Club Burger that rivals most restaurant burgers in the US, and the happy hipster avocado toast.
Vietnamese coffee foamed up with egg white and sweetened with sugar, appropriately named Egg Coffee, was addictively satisfying.
Our boat rower in Tam Coc is informing us of the favorite foods in the very little English he could speak, eating dog, cat, goat, pig, and sugar cane that tasted like a slightly sweet bark or a tree.
I thought dog and cat would be to… exotic for me, therefore I had to pass on the consumption.
Remote Year (month 3 away from old home with my travel family)
This month I lived three lives. One life last month of night shift work, another life was a social life with the RY Kanyinis which dipped into the night shift work life, and an independent life, thanks to the accessibility of Grab Bike (and of course, the Internet) to jump into my own adventures. Until now, I have relied heavily on the RY program and its events/planning.
Building my experience was not lacking negative emotions. I felt a weird pressure when I was not doing enough of the touristy stuff, or exploring the same things that other remotes did, or even liking the same things as much as others did. But then, I had a candid little chat with myself, saying, “you’re not a tourist. You came on Remote Year to immerse yourself into the local cultures. To challenge yourself.” Duh, and like that, a switch flipped, I felt more open to be myself, let my guard down, became more conformable. I spent time exploring the city, hung out with people that I did not typically, and found my new normal. I am not sure if it has been because of the time on the program (like dog years, remote year time is the 1-year equivalent), my enjoyment of Vietnam, or some cosmic force, but I have felt like a citizen of the world, acclimating to this city as if it was my own.
Lived locally. Worked locally.
Now, I look forward to seeing what Africa has to offer.