Whenever I am asked to write an entry for this blog, I usually do the writing mid-week. But, last week our great crew was busy filming the course I get to tell you about today, and that is the updated version of the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) Operating System Fundamentals course, which maps to MTA exam 98-349.
Most of the time, when we put together a new version of a course, it is for a new exam (specifically name or number). This time, though, the exam name and number are the same. What changed, then? Oh, about half of the test objectives as the exam has been updated to include Windows 10 content and remove content that just applied to Windows 7.
For example, exam topics such as Aero configurations, Windows Media Center, and Windows XP mode are all gone as they are not in Windows 10, but features such as Insider Preview, Current Branch, and Windows Store apps are exam topics. Furthermore, the wording of many exam topics has changed to “Configure….” rather than “Understand…”, placing a greater emphasis on knowing how to do operating system configurations in Windows 10, not just knowing what they are.
Now, the specifics: There are six domains on this exam:
- Understanding operating system configurations
- Installing and upgrading client systems
- Managing applications
- Managing files and folders
- Managing devices
- Understanding operating system maintenance
This course covers these domains thoroughly, through the video training (which we just completed filming), pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, practice labs, and a project workbook with plenty of practice exercises for configuring Windows 10. All of these tools will help you pass the 98-349 exam and increase your employability as, according to Microsoft, Windows 10 has been deployed to over 400 million devices in its first year of release. Thus, businesses which need desktop support technicians and computer repair shops definitely need people who are skilled in configuring Windows 10, which this course and certification will provide.
A couple of months ago, we began releasing a series of Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 test prep courses. These courses are one session each and serve as supplemental material to our full Creative Cloud courses. I recently caught up with our resident expert, Jason Manibog, to ask him a few questions about these courses.
- What is the purpose of the Adobe CC 2015 Test Prep courses? The purpose of these courses is simple: To get students ready to pass the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) exams for the 2015 version of these programs. We decided to do test prep courses rather than full-length courses because the programs and test objectives have not changed much from the 2013 to the 2015 versions of these programs. What has changed, however, is how the tests themselves are delivered. Now, one can expect several scenario-based question per exam. In these, a real-life scenario is presented and then several questions are based on that scenario.
- How many courses will there be? Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Premiere…that’s five if I’m counting correctly :D. For Adobe Animate we are going to do a brand new course since that program, in effect, replaces Flash.
- What are some of the new features in CC 2015? In a nutshell:
- Photoshop – Work can now be done with artboards (previously, only Illustrator had that). The Brush features and image export features have been enhanced as well. And, glyphs are now available.
- Illustrator – If Illustrator crashes, there is now a good change your work can be recovered. Plus (and I have been waiting for this for a while), the Pencil tool now allows for auto-closing a shape (meaning you can draw a shape and have it actually behave like a shape). The Shapebuilder and Curvature tools have also been enhanced.
- InDesign – Graphics can now be inserted directly into tables. Shading and borders can be added to paragraphs. And it is easier to publish online now than it was in previous versions.
- Dreamweaver – Multiple tags can now be selected in the Document Object Model (DOM) panel, making it easier to move multiple tags around on a page. Plus, tags, classes, and IDs can be added and changed through the DOM panel. The Visual Media Query feature has also been enhanced to make it easier to change measurements on objects. And, similar to Illustrator, should the program crash, there is a good chance your work will be recovered.
- Premiere – Native support for QuickTime files is now available. Plus, several new workflows are available, including a Virtual Reality (VR) video workflow, which allows one to edit and create a VR-type experience. And many editing enhancements have been made (such as several new keyboard shortcuts).
- What advice would you give to a new user of Adobe products? Go the speed limit when learning and be conceptual in learning. For example, in learning Photoshop, it is fine to learn all of the tools and effects and filters and other options (as they can be quite nice to work with), but, knowing what the these tools do and when one would use them is just as important. Just as an example: You wouldn’t use dodge and burn when trying to change a color effect on a picture as dodge and burn lightens or darkens overall exposure (and people who develop pictures the old-fashioned way, in a darkroom, will use these tricks by hand). On the flipside, if you are used to doing things manually and know of photo or design concepts, you will have fun finding these tools in these Adobe programs.
- What type of student did you have in mind when you were creating these courses? Basically, a student trying to learn valuable job-ready skills in Adobe products and also looking to gain one ACA certification or maybe multiple ACA certifications.
- If a student has very little experience using Adobe, how would you recommend they study for the exam? I would start with the CC version of the courses of study. For example, if one is trying to learn Photoshop, start with the Photoshop CC course, go through all of the pre-assessment and post-assessment tests for each session, and do the projects in the project workbook. Anyone can get a 30-day trial of any Adobe program, so there is no reason to not practice these concepts. And then, do the same for the 2015 test prep course to gain further knowledge of these Adobe programs. And, have fun!
Last week, we released our new PowerPoint 2016 course, the third in our line of Office 2016 training. I recently caught up with our resident expert, Jason Manibog, to ask him a few questions about this course.
- What advice would you give to a user new to PowerPoint? The biggest thing to remember about PowerPoint is that it is a presentation program, not a document program. Keep everything in nice, short phrases. Use your own notes to describe topics you put on PowerPoint slides. If PowerPoint slides are too wordy, the audience will lose focus. And, make sure information is organized well. A PowerPoint presentation should be an outline on slides.
- What type of student did you have in mind when you were creating this course? For that one, there are three possible answers: First, someone new to PowerPoint will benefit greatly because bad habits (like making slides too wordy) won’t be learned (hopefully). Second, someone may be looking to enhance PowerPoint skills, especially ones needed for the current job market. Finally, many students may be pushing toward gaining the Microsoft Office Specialist PowerPoint 2016 certification. This course covers all of those exam objectives.
- If a student has very little experience using PowerPoint, how would you recommend they start using our training? Why, at the beginning, of course. The opening of the course focuses on a tour of PowerPoint and then the different ways in which a presentation is created. What better way to start than that?
- What are some of the new features in PowerPoint 2016? The Tell Me feature is quite handy, because it’s not just about getting help on how to do something in PowerPoint. Rather, the Tell Me feature presents direct links to tasks. For example, if you ask the Tell Me feature how to add WordArt to a slide, it lists some WordArt creation options. Plus, the text highlighter prominent in Word is now available in PowerPoint. Finally, those with a OneDrive account can save a presentation to a OneDrive location and then collaborate with others, real-time, on a presentation.
- What was your favorite thing about filming this course? That I was able to do what I like to do best with these introductory courses, which is to basically take a project from start to finish. Plus, I was able to sneak a golf picture or two into the course :D. And, I got to showcase one of my co-workers and his band (only for a few seconds, but hey, exposure is exposure, right?)
…Oh, hello there! It’s me, your humble Senior Instructor. Today, I’m here to tell you about an update to the existing Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) 98-349 exam, otherwise known as the MTA OS Fundamentals exam.
The exam, which is tentatively scheduled to change later this month, is still going to focus on Operating System fundamentals, but is getting a “refresh” of sorts. Going away are topics specific to the operating system the exam has focused on, specifically Windows 7. Coming into the exam are topics specific to Windows 10. The exam is still geared toward those looking to learn about the setup and configuration of Windows. Gaining this certification will demonstrate that you have enough knowledge to install and configure Windows smoothly and efficiently and manage Windows installations and apps.
We will be putting our own “refresh” on our existing MTA OS Fundamentals as we will be updating the course this fall to match the new exam objectives. Speaking of objectives, this is not a complete list of what is entering or exiting the exam, but, I think you’ll agree that the theme of the exam is “out with the Windows 7 specifics and in with the Windows 10 specifics.” Here are some of the objective changes for the 98-349 exam:
- Aero configurations
- Virtualized clients
- Application virtualization
- File Allocation Tables (FAT)
- Cloud storage
- Local, online, and automated backup methods
- File Explorer settings
- Microsoft Edge
- Operating system architecture
- Windows 10 features
- Disk management
- Windows Update options
- Insider Preview
- Current Branch
Our course “refresh” will involve brand new video courseware, a new project workbook full of exercises to reinforce these concepts, and a pre-assessment and post-assessment test for each exam domain. We look forward to bringing you yet another MTA course this fall!
Last month, we released our new Word 2016 course, the second in our line of Office 2016 training. I’ve been using Word 2016 for years, and it seems like each version of Word just gets better than the last one, adding more and more features to help the user work more efficiently.
I recently caught up with our resident expert, Jason Manibog, to ask him a few questions about this course.
- What advice would you give to a user new to Word? Know that this program is there to help you build documents of all types: letters, simple flyers, booklets, term papers, lists, basically anything you can write on paper. As to the program, learn the ribbon and the Backstage View as what you need to do will usually be found in one of those two places. And, don’t worry about typing perfect documents right away. Get your thoughts typed up and then use the tools Word has (like spelling and grammar check and the thesaurus, to name a couple) to help you proofread and edit your documents.
- What type of student did you have in mind when you were creating this course? Actually I had two types: First, students looking to pass the Word 2016 Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification test (exam 77-725). This course has a session for each exam domain, so one can basically follow the course and the test objectives at the same time. Secondly, people may just want to acquire job-ready skills needed for Microsoft Word. This course has plenty of practical situations to help one make that goal.
- If a student has very little experience using Word, how would you recommend they start using our training? At the beginning (ha ha). Seriously, though, spend time in the “Tour of Office” and “Tour of Word” sections, especially the Tour of Office section. This will help lay a foundation on how to navigate through the program. And, don’t be afraid to try a couple of things on your own. You can usually click the Undo button if needed.
- What are some of the new features in Word 2016? Three in particular stand out to me. First, the Tell Me feature, which allows one to ask a question on how to do something, like “add borders to text” and then get the actual task presented to do. Secondly, a document can be saved to a OneDrive site and then multiple users can collaborate, real-time, on a document. Thirdly, research features have been enhanced through the Smart Lookup feature, which allows one to search for a term and get definitions, explanations, website links on the term, and many other types of information on the term.
- What was your favorite thing about filming this course? That the filming went well and for me, it was a relatively easy shoot given I’ve been working with Word since, well, before the turn of the millennium 🙂
One year ago, I arrived at LearnKey as the new, in-house Senior Instructor. And over the past year, I’ve filled this space with many blogs about current and upcoming courses. You may wonder, “How do you all figure out which courses to build?” Or, you may not be wondering that at all. But, one of my duties as Senior Instructor is to take in many different factors, such as industry trends, technologies in hot demand, client needs, and other factors typical to a company attempting to produce world-class certification courses and other types of courses, such as the character-building soft skills courses we released last week.
And with any schedule, sometimes things happen which cause a little shifting around of things schedule-wise. This is kind of like a chef thinking a recipe is great and then realizing a few tweaks need to be made here and there (not that I would really know much about that given my limited cooking repertoire). But in the computer training business, the only real constant schedule-wise is the frequent adjustments of the schedule. In our case, that means the course release schedule.
So what are the specifics in this schedule adjustment announcement, you ask? Well, we had one Cisco course in the works, Cisco Implementing Cisco Network Security (IINS) for exam 210-260, but with Cisco’s announcement of a new version of their Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) exams, that number of courses jumped from one Cisco course to three Cisco courses.
This combined with a few other changes in industry trends and certifications, along with our quest to always put out courses to give you the job-ready skills needed to succeed in this ever-changing technology landscape, has caused the following adjustments in the course release schedule. Here is what the rest of 2016 looks like, broken down by quarter:
- Excel 2016
- Word 2016
- PowerPoint 2016
- IC3 Spark – You will hear plenty about this course in the coming weeks
- Cisco ICND Part 1 (Version 3) for exam 100-105.
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals (for exam 98-375)
- MTA Cloud Fundamentals (for exam 98-369)
- Cisco IINS (as detailed above)
- Cisco ICND Part 2 (Version 3) for exam 200-105
- Adobe Certified Associate Test Prep series for the Creative Cloud 2015 versions of Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign
- Outlook 2016
- Access 2016
Now, you may wonder “Where did the big new programming track go?” The programming track will be the big series we roll out early in 2017. Microsoft, as a matter of fact, is revamping their programming certification track. As they complete that process, we will pick that up and bring you a fun, interactive, and world-class programming track where you will learn by doing.
You can always stay updated on the latest detailed course release schedule here:
We’re pleased to announce that in partnership with Human Relations Media, we’ve released the following new character building soft skills courses:
- Digital Smarts: Behaving Ethically Online
- Digital Smarts: Protecting Your Online Reputation and Safety
- Your Reputation: Enhancing It, Repairing It
- I Was Cyberbullied
Digital Smarts: Behaving Ethically Online
Cyber ethics and respect for others online are critical skills to acquire for today’s connected teens. The message of this teen-centered video is that all students have a responsibility to behave ethically online and to know how to react when others behave in inappropriate ways. Teen hosts discuss the ethics of issues such as distributing unflattering pictures or posts aimed at harming someone’s reputation and the importance of respecting the privacy of others. They emphasize the importance of respecting the safety of others and becoming an upstander rather than a bystander when witnessing abusive behavior online.
Digital Smarts: Protecting Your Online Reputation and Safety
Cyber reputation, security and safety have become important topics for students to understand and master. This engaging video program encourages students to think critically about the opportunities and risks provided by their many digital devices. Real-life dangers from predators, spammers and identity thieves are revealed through teen interviews and accounts from experts in cyber security and safety. Students learn why it is important to choose passwords that are hard to guess and why they should not share their passwords with others.
Students are challenged to think about ways that digital technology can be used to enhance or damage their reputations. Teens talk about how compromising photos and other postings online became part of their permanent digital footprint. The video provides specific advice about how to protect students’ privacy, security and online reputations.
Your Reputation: Enhancing It, Repairing It
For middle schoolers, fitting in, being popular, having friends, and getting along with teachers is all important. Whether they are aware of it or not, the opinions and perceptions of peers, parents and teachers all contribute to a young teen’s reputation—or the way others see them. Through the use of acted out vignettes, young viewers will understand the power of having a good reputation versus the pain of having a bad one. Program also gives pointers on how to repair a bad reputation which often takes a long time to achieve. Program includes a special section on one’s online reputation and some of the pitfalls of social networking.
I Was Cyberbullied
This program presents three real-life stories from kids who were targets of cyberbullying attacks and offers viewers practical suggestions for how to avoid being victimized by this new, rapidly-spreading type of bullying. Each story highlights important tips such as: only post the type of information online that you would be comfortable with others seeing; remember that once an email or photo is posted online, you can’t take it back; avoid responding to vicious texts or emails that might escalate a situation further; and know when to turn to a trusted adult for help. Renowned “bully coach” Joel Haber leads a discussion on how serious and damaging cyberbullying can be, and touches upon recent cases of children committing suicide after being cyberbullied. This timely program will strike a chord with all viewers—those who may have been victimized as well as those who may have thought that cyberbullying was “no big deal.”
Our hope is that through our courseware we may provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed. For more information and to learn about additional LearnKey products visit our website.
Hello there! With all of the activity the past couple of weeks here, from the release of the A+ 220-902 series to the release of the Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course, I haven’t had the space to tell you about the third of our “major” three Office 2016 courses, PowerPoint 2016, due out this summer, along with Excel 2016 and Word 2016.
The PowerPoint 2016 course will have some features similar to the Excel 2016 and Word 2016 courses, in that the course will contain real-life examples businesses use (in fact, we are using the same fictitious business we used in the Excel 2016 and Word 2016 courses) and will help one prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam for PowerPoint 2016.
This course will have several hours of video training, a large assortment of practice labs, a project workbook with practice exercises, and pre-assessment and post-assessment tests to help you learn valuable skills not just for the MOS exam, but to be job-ready for any position needing PowerPoint skills.
There is one subtle difference with this course when compared to Excel 2016 or Word 2016 though, and that is for this course, we will, for the most part, be building a single presentation from start to finish, covering the important elements of PowerPoint along the way. This is a slight contrast to the Excel and Word courses, where in those courses we used many different files to cover the concepts for those programs.
And before I leave you today, I would like to share with you my favorite new feature for PowerPoint 2016: The Screen Recording feature, found on the Insert tab. This feature allows you to, when on a PowerPoint slide, actually record video of what you do on the screen and embed that video into your presentation. This is a great way to show a coworker (or that relative who always calls you with a computer problem) how to do something, step-by-step through video. Quite often, a video will explain things in a better fashion than will a step-by-step manual. Which would explain one reason we do video-based training around here, wouldn’t it?
What runs through your mind when you think about Microsoft Excel? Personally, my relationship with Excel has been complicated and ranges from avoiding it at all costs to using it excessively. I have found Excel to be a useful tool for tracking personal finances and information, as well as making lists and daily schedules. I know many people may feel apprehensive about learning Excel, so I thought, who better to provide some positive insight than Jason Manibog our in-house IT expert? Recently, I visited with Jason and asked him if he could give us some advice that would be beneficial to new users of Excel. Whether you are learning Excel purely for certification purposes, or for more efficient personal use, be sure to read Jason’s feedback below.
- What advice would you give to a user new to Excel? I would start with (of course) viewing our Excel 2016 course! But to start working with Excel? I would start with building a simple file or two for something you can relate to, like a phone list of family and friends, or a budget or expenses sheet with calculations. Most importantly, make the files YOUR files as in something you can relate to.
- What type of student did you have in mind when you were creating this course? Someone trying to learn Excel and perhaps looking toward passing the Microsoft Office (MOS) 2016 Excel exam. And, someone who is trying to get important job-ready skills in Excel. The practice files are really geared toward the job-ready aspect of training.
- If a student has very little experience using Excel, how would you recommend they start using our training? Start with the very first part of the course and make sure to mix the video training with the practice exercises in the project workbook which accompanies the course.
- What are some common uses for Excel that people can use their new Excel skills for? The list is large. I would say lists, budgets, expense sheets, workout logs, golf scores (had to throw that in), or anything else that involves building a list and then, when needed, analyzing that data through charts and calculations.
- What are some of the new features in Excel 2016? There are a few, but the two which stand out to me are the “Tell Me” feature, which I brought up in a previous blog. The “Tell Me” feature allows one to search for a “How-To” and then get the actual tasks to do. For example, I can do a “Tell Me” search on “Get the Average of data” and it will lead me right to the AVERAGE function. Also, for those of you who like charts, there are several new chart types in Excel 2016, so analyze away!
Today we released the second of our exam prep courses, and the first test prep course for Adobe CC 2015. Our Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course is a complementary resource to go along with the Photoshop CC course, authored by LearnKey Expert Chad Chelius. Although the Photoshop CC course readies you for the Photoshop CC exam, there are new objectives and types of test questions which are covered in the Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course. LearnKey Senior Instructor Jason Manibog takes you through these changes, so you will have the tools you need to confidently pass the Photoshop CC 2015 exam.
Our hope is that through our courseware we may provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed. For more information and to learn about additional LearnKey products visit our website.