My Certification Failure

by Brad - Mar 31, 2015


Recently, I did something I rarely do – I failed a test. You may think, “Big deal, it’s just one test, you’ll pass the next one,” and you would usually be right. Except this wasn’t just any test. It was a certification exam.

A couple of weeks ago, I began watching LearnKey’s Project 2013 training to prepare to take the Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013 certification exam. I watched the entire course, took notes, passed all of the pre- and post tests, and reviewed the training for the questions I had missed. I was a little nervous about taking the test, but I felt confident in using the software and figured the test would be pretty easy. I passed a couple of Adobe certification tests with no problems, and I thought the Project 2013 test would be similar.

The first thing I failed to take into account was the fact that I have been using Adobe software for nearly a decade. I probably know Photoshop and Dreamweaver better than any other software out there (with the possible exception of StarCraft or Age of Empires, but that’s a whole other ballgame).

Whenever someone asks me for advice on how to pass a certification exam, I always tell them one thing: Explore the software. Open up the menus, learn the features, figure things out on your own, and become proficient. No matter how good a training course is, there is no substitute for real-world experience. As I watched the training, I followed along in Project 2013 and learned enough to feel comfortable using it, but I didn’t spend very much time exploring the software on my own.

The second thing I failed to take into account was that the exam structure may not be the same as the Adobe exams I have taken in the past. Adobe exams place a heavy emphasis on lab-type questions where the students show they know the software by performing tasks in a simulated environment. I thought that even if I didn’t know everything about Project 2013, I could find my way around in the simulated environment.

As soon as I started the exam, I knew I was in trouble. The questions were all scenario-based and there was not a single simulation-based question in the entire exam. I had not prepared for these types of questions! The questions were also more difficult than I had anticipated. It’s not enough to be able to use the software; certification exams are geared toward expert users. I should have spend a lot more time exploring the software.

I just scheduled a retake of the Project 2013 certification exam. I plan to re-watch the training and take better notes. This time, I will follow my own advice, as well as the advice given in our Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter LearnCast course. This time, I will give the exam the respect it deserves by putting in the necessary study time and fully exploring Project 2013. This time, I plan to pass.


New Course Release: OS X Fundamentals

by Beau - Mar 11, 2015


We are excited to announce the release of our OS X Fundamentals course today! This training and assessment video is part of our Computer Foundations video training, and was made to help Mac users with the basic functions and uses of their computer. Many people use computers on a daily basis, so it is important to know the basics of how to operate their computer.

OS X Fundamentals Course

The OS X Fundamentals course is designed for a user new to the world of Mac computers. Specifically demonstrated on OS X Yosemite, LearnKey’s fundamentals course demonstrates the most common functions of the operating system to enable a new user to feel confident in their ability to use a Mac. The course covers systems preference basics, desktop, customization, out of the box setup, installing/uninstalling apps, and much more.

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


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New Course Release: Project 2013

by Beau - Feb 26, 2015


LearnKey’s Project 2013 course will introduce learners to the new features of Project 2013. Join LearnKey expert Michael Solomon as you learn how to start a project, create a schedule, manage resources, and more. This course is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

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.


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Veteran Testimonial – Tristan Roberts

by Jenna - Feb 20, 2015


When my friend Joe talks about his time in the Army, he’s told me that he misses “that feeling of brotherhood.” While I’ve never served in the military, I have an incredibly close relationship with my family and remember how alone and cut off I often felt from their care, direction, and loyalty during the year I lived abroad after college.

After I came home and started working as a Veteran Services Rep, I was struck by the loyalty and caring that I saw demonstrated so often at LearnKey. I loved (and still love) listening in on the other LKVS ladies and hearing them talking about their vets’ successes. I loved (and still love) that in our weekly meetings we all (and by “we all” I mean the advisors, the VSRs, the Know Your Talents team, Jeff Coruccini and our awesome tutor Tristan) celebrate together whenever a veteran earns a certification, gets a job interview, or finishes their program with us. Most of all I loved—and love—that when we announce our vets’ successes, we say all their names instead of giving the group a number.

Tristan in particular continues to impress me with his efforts on our veterans’ behalf. When I met Tristan and put a face to the voice on the speakerphone, my initial impression was that he was just as mellow and calm in person as he was on the phone. Now that I’m starting to direct the veterans I assist to him for tutoring help, I really respect the way Tristan reaches out so quickly, offers his help and is always working to create more study materials.

Watching Tristan’s testimonial about the Blue Ocean program and looking back on my earliest days at LearnKey was a powerful reminder for me that OUR end goal here will never be racking up certifications, program completions, or even job placements. We’re here to give people the chance to build on the values they lived through their service to our country and to be the loyal, caring support system that they deserve.

This is Jenna’s debut LearnKey blog post! She has been a Veteran Services Rep with us for four awesome months. Jenna loves theatre, smoothies, her husband, and being asked about her year teaching English in China!


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8 LearnKey Career Paths That Will Increase Your Yearly Income

by Brad - Feb 18, 2015


According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in 2013 in the United States was $51,939. While this was a slight rise from the previous year, 2010 and 2011 both saw significant declines in the median household income. 2014 saw the median income rise to levels more consistent with those in 2010, but they are still significantly lower than in 2009.

Household income levels are related to the rise and fall in the economy, but there are steps that can be taken to see an increase in income during hard economic times. LearnKey has designed a series of training bundles to help job seekers prepare for careers that will continue to be in demand, even when the economy is poor. Here are eight of LearnKey’s career paths which have the highest potential to raise your salary above the median household income:

Accounting and Finance
Accounting and finance workers are responsible for financial documents, forecasts, reports, direct investment activities, financial analysis strategies, balance sheets, loans, payroll, auditing, bookkeeping and other financial transactions. Knowledge of computer programs is essential in today’s market. Individuals in the accounting and finance role need to keep up-to-date on the latest technology in order to increase the efficiency of their firms financial operations.

  • Median Pay: $61,000-$64,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications (CPA or CMA) or Bachelor’s Degree (recommended not required)
  • Careers available in many industries (hospitality, corporate, government, etc)

Business Management
Business managers perform a broad range of duties in virtually every sector of the economy. Generally management roles are split into two levels, first-line managers and mid-level managers. First-line managers directly supervise a staff that performs various support services. Mid-level managers develop departmental plans, set goals, deadlines, implement procedures to improve productivity and customer service, and define the responsibilities of supervisory-level managers.

  • Median Pay: $78,000-$81,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (information technology, administrative, financial, purchasing, and human resources)
  • Should maintain and enhance skills in team building, leadership, and workplace law to maintain a competitive edge within company

Computer Security Specialist
A computer security specialist’s main responsibility is to ensure the security, integrity, and safety of an organization’s data. Individuals should have specific knowledge on wireless networking, cyber-space management and adapt their knowledge to stay ahead of cyber-attacks.

  • Median Pay: $75,000-$86,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Associate’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (government, retail, manufacturing, data processing, and other information industries)

Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst determines which type of computer system will best serve the needs of a business or organization, by helping them run more efficiently. This position requires the ability to focus on more than a single project. At times a computer systems analyst may be required to work on multiple projects at one time. Computer systems analysts will often work with the managers of different departments to determine what technology and computer systems are needed.

  • Median Pay: $71,000-$81,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (computer systems, insurance, banks, and hospitals)

Database Administrator
A database administrator determines ways to organize and store data using database management system software. They identify user requirements, test and set up databases, and coordinate modifications to the systems. A database administrator understands the platform on which the database runs, ensures data integrity, backs up systems, and manages the performance of systems. A database administrator ensures that users have access to the data they need and keep data safe from unauthorized access.

  • Median Pay: $73,000-$77,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (computer systems, insurance, banks, and hospitals)

IT Network or System Administrator
IT network or system administrators are tech savvy experts, responsible to ensure the day-to-day efficient use of networks and systems within a company or organization. This position requires an individual to be knowledgeable with cyber-security practices, to protect a business’s important information.

  • Median Pay: $69,000-$71,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Associate’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (government, retail, manufacturing, data processing, and other information industries)

Software Developer
Software developers are responsible for developing applications for computers and other devices that allow people to perform a specific task. They also design systems that are used to control networks or run various devices. Developers work closely with customers to ensure that their needs are understood and will work through any complaints. A developer is responsible for any upgrades and maintenance to a program.

  • Median Pay: $90,000-$93,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries

Web Developer
Web designers create, design, develop, and maintain websites using authoring and scripting languages, create content and digital media, and employ standards and technologies for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce websites. Along with the look of a website, a developer is also responsible for the technical aspects and content of a site.

  • Median Pay: $60,000-$63,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree

Income and education information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition. Accessed March 2014.


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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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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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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.