Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Our School Needs" Contest Could Bring Funds to Your School

Would your school benefit from a $100,000 gift to use toward technology education? We know the answer to that. Thanks to Bing, you have a chance to bring the funds to your school! Microsoft’s search engine Bing is sponsoring a user-generated competition, “Our School Needs,” to bring money to public schools. Over the course of the competition—September 20 to October 22—Bing will donate a total $250,000 to schools, and the grand prize winning school will receive $100,000. Plus, an additional $900,000 will be donated to schools over the course of the competition by the non-profit DonorsChoose.org.

To enter the competition, students and teachers at K-12 schools submit an essay and photos that finish the sentence “Our School Needs _____.”

Check out the official Our School Needs website for complete details, but here are the basics:

September 20–October 22: Enter to Win
As individuals or groups, students or teachers create a contest entry that includes:
  • A written essay, 500 to 800 words, that finishes the sentence “Our School Needs _____.”
  • 3–5 photographs that finish the sentence “Our School Needs _____.”
  • (Optional) An original video, no longer than 3 minutes in length, that finishes the sentence “Our School Needs _____.”
While students are encouraged to create the entry, a parent or teacher must submit it.

October 22–26: Rate Submissions
Entries will be displayed online for anyone to see and rate. Top-rated entries will then be narrowed down to 15 finalists by a panel of judges.

October 27–November 5: Official Voting Period
Everyone can submit a vote once a day for their favorite submission, and the first 30,000 voters each day will receive a $3 donation from DonorsChoose.org to support a classroom project.

November 9: Winners Are Announced
Three first-prize schools will win a $50,000 prize, and the grand prize school will win $100,000.

Be sure to visit the official Our School Needs website to read more about the contest and get helpful tools for planning your submission.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CompTIA's A+ Update to Include Windows 7 Content: LabSim Is Ready

At the recent CompTIA Breakaway 2010 conference, CompTIA announced they are updating the A+ exam objectives to include Windows 7 as a required operating system. In A+ Essentials (exam 220-602), Domains 3.0 and 4.0 will be updated (see the official updated objectives), and in A+ Practical Application (exam 220-702), Domains 2.0 and 4.0 will be updated (see the official updated objectives).

Though CompTIA has not specified exactly when the changes will take place, there will likely be a beta period when new questions are tested in exams but not counted toward test-takers’ scores. After the beta period, successful questions will be kept in the exam question pool. TestOut estimates that the beta period may conclude as early as late December 2010.

How will the changes affect TestOut’s LabSim A+ courses?
CompTIA’s addition of Windows 7 questions in the A+ exams should have no impact on test-takers who train with LabSim A+ courses. LabSim A+ courses already include Windows 7 content, and the LabSim A+ courses will be updated with new Windows 7 practice exam questions before CompTIA’s changes are in effect.

LabSim A+ courses already include Windows 7 content.
As TestOut was developing LabSim courses for the new A+ exams, Windows 7 was already in final beta. Even though it was not required by the CompTIA objectives, TestOut chose to include Windows 7 content in the courses, knowing that people would need to be familiar with the newest operating system both at home and in the workplace. Comparing LabSim A+ content to the updated exam objectives, TestOut only needs to make minor additions to the LabSim A+ courses.

LabSim A+ content will update before Windows 7 exam questions are used.

As CompTIA gets closer to including Windows 7 questions in their exams (both beta and eventually scored questions), LabSim A+ exam preparation will be updated to include Windows 7 practice questions. TestOut anticipates having new practice questions added long before Windows 7 questions are required for the live certification exams.

As soon as any additional content is modified or added to LabSim A+ courses, users will immediately see those changes.

What should I do differently as I teach A+?
If you teach A+ and would like to help your students succeed with Windows 7, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Other than some interface changes and a few new features, Windows 7 is very similar to Windows Vista. Windows 7 has the same system requirements, system files are in the same locations, and most tasks can be completed using the same methods as in Windows Vista.
  • When upgrading to Windows 7, remember the general upgrade rule:
    An in-place upgrade is possible when moving up one operating system version (such as from Vista to Windows 7). A clean install is required when moving up two or more versions (such as from Windows XP to Windows 7).
    For example, when upgrading from Windows XP, you can do an in-place upgrade to Windows Vista, but you must do a clean install to move to Windows 7.
  • Backup and Restore in Windows now includes the ability to back up specific files.
  • A library in Windows 7 is a way to organize and share files and folders. A library is like a virtual directory that includes files and folders from many different locations. Users access files in the library through the library folder instead of browsing to specific folders in various locations.
  • The new HomeGroup feature allows computers on a local area network to easily share files and printers.

Specific interface changes that make Windows 7 different from Windows Vista include:
  • The Sidebar has been removed in Windows 7. All gadgets float freely on the desktop.
  • Icons can now be pinned to the taskbar or the Start Menu by right-clicking the application.
  • The “Show Desktop” button is on the right side of the taskbar. Hovering over the button makes the content of all open windows disappear (called “Peek”); clicking the button minimizes all open windows.
  • “Snap” is a new feature that maximizes a window as you drag its border to the edge of the screen. Snapping multiple windows on the screen tiles them side-by-side.
  • “Shake” lets you hide all but the current window. Click the top window border and shake the mouse to hide or unhide all other open windows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Day to Vote! 2010 Windows IT Pro Awards

If TestOut's LabSim certification training courses have made a difference for you, we would appreciate your vote of support in the 2010 Windows IT Pro Community Choice Awards!


TestOut has been nominated in two categories: Best Training and Certification Product or Service and Best Vendor Technical Support.

Your confidence in TestOut's LabSim can show others that LabSim is the best source for comprehensive, hands-on IT training.

Today's the last day to vote, so please visit Windows IT Pro Community Choice Awards, select IT Pros, and vote for TestOut on Page 2, Questions 27 and 30.

Thank you for your support and for taking the time to vote!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Free LabSim Webinar "Seeing Is Believing--Student Results at Your Fingertips"


"Seeing Is Believing—Student Results at Your Fingertips"

Join us for a Webinar on September 22, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT


Space is limited! Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Learn how to effectively implement LabSim IT certification training courses and use student reporting and curriculum resources featured in every LabSim course.

Includes LabSim demonstrations on:

Creating Reports of Student Results
  • Track students' scores on labs, quizzes, and exams
  • Observe time students spend viewing videos and data sheets
  • View data based on student, class, LabSim titles, or specific LabSim exercises

Administrative Tools
  • Manage student and class information
  • Activate students in LabSim

Best Practices
  • Maximize LabSim benefits in your classroom

Curriculum Development Tools
  • Complete LabSim course outlines
  • Library of lesson plans in .pdf and Word

Courseware Textbook Mapping
  • LabSim course content mapped to popular textbooks

And much more to help improve instructors' and students' success using LabSim.

Title: "Seeing Is Believing—Student Results at Your Fingertips"
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Time: 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees: Windows 7, Vista, XP, or Server 2003
Mac-based attendees: Mac OSX 10.4.11 (Tiger) or newer

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

IT Instructor Displays LabSim Graphic in a Creative Way

Dennis DeBroeck, instructor in the IT program at Walla Walla High School in Walla Walla, Washington, sent us an email with some awesome photos: he printed the new LabSim “Experience Accelerated” poster on a floor tile and laid it in his classroom! He also displayed the graphic as the desktop wallpaper on computers in his classroom. Check out Dennis’s description and photos below!

“I print floor graphics as a way to communicate important details to students. I put wiring diagrams, safety information and warnings, and charts on the floor. Students always seem to see them if I do. I put the LabSim poster down so students would know about the recent changes to the online version. Students also love industry connections.

TestOut sent me the graphics, and I printed them on a Roland printer that is designed to print on several types of material, including floor vinyl. I change them about once a month to content that I am teaching at the time. I am currently working on printing all the ports found on the back of a computer and putting them around the room.”
The new LabSim "Experience Accelerated" poster features an exploding progress bar.
Instructor Dennis DeBroeck uses floor graphics to capture his students' attention.

Walla Walla High School students learn from the latest technologies in their classroom.

Remind students of hands-on benefits of using LabSim with "Experience Accelerated" wallpaper.


About Dennis and his classroom:
“I teach Media Technology & Animation as well as Computer Technology.  I have done so for about 17 years.  I maintain and manage my own classroom technology.  My classroom has two servers, 28 workstations and technical lab area.  We have a large format printer and a media studio with high def cameras and editing.  We currently run Windows 7 64 bit OS and Mac.  We use CS5 master collection and Newtek Lightwave for 3D modeling and animation work.

Our stations use Intel i7 processors and led backlit Vizio monitors.  I manage the lab with Scriptlogic's desktop authority.”

Thank you, Dennis, for sharing your photos with us!

Your Own New LabSim Poster, "Experience Accelerated"
Get your own new LabSim poster and desktop wallpaper to remind your students of the experience they're gaining from LabSim training. Email your request to experience@testout.com.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Require Mastery of LabSim Labs to Ensure Learning

There are many ways to incorporate LabSim training into an IT course you teach. Some instructors assign certain sections of LabSim to match their own lesson schedule, while others assign the whole LabSim course from start to finish. Some instructors use LabSim as the sole curriculum, and others use LabSim as part of a combination of teaching tools.

Even though instructors utilize LabSim in different ways, there is one requirement I hear from almost every instructor I talk to:

Require mastery (100%) of each LabSim lab before students can move on to the next LabSim module.

Instructors emphasize the importance of students gaining mastery of each concept they learn and task they complete in LabSim. Below are comments from five different IT instructors who require their students to complete each LabSim lab with 100%:

“When students miss a question in a quiz or exam, or perform a lab incorrectly, LabSim points them to the sections in the course where they can learn the material they don’t understand. They have to do remedial learning until they can pass the lab with 100%.”

“Repeating the videos and labs until content is mastered is a good thing because repetition helps solidify concepts in students’ minds. Hearing and doing it again reinforce learning. A lot of my students play video games. I tell them, have you ever played a game so many times you can close your eyes and play it in your sleep? It needs to be that way with IT concepts, and LabSim lets you practice until you’re at that point.”

“I look for mastery. I don’t give a final grade on a LabSim lab until students have mastered it with a score of 100%. Students have assigned timeframes to complete LabSim sections, and within each timeframe, they can repeat the sections as many times as it takes to master the concepts.”

“LabSim is 50% of students’ final grade. All they have to do is print off the LabSim report at the end of class showing 100% on everything.”

“Students can repeat videos, labs, and readings as many times as necessary to master the concepts, but I don’t give any credit until their score is 100%.”

Instructors, what successes have you seen by requiring your students to achieve mastery in every lab? Leave your comment or email experience@testout.com.

Emily Howard, TestOut

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vote for TestOut in the 2010 Windows IT Pro Community Choice Awards

For the second year in a row, TestOut has been nominated for the Windows IT Pro Community Choice Awards in the category Best Training and Certification Product or Service for TestOut’s LabSim training courses. This year, TestOut has also been nominated in the category Best Vendor Technical Support.

Please take a minute to cast your vote and recognize TestOut as the industry’s best.

Where to Vote
Visit Windows IT Pro Community Choice Awards, select IT Pro, and vote for TestOut on page 2 in Questions 27 and 30.

When to Vote

The voting period runs from August 31st to September 21st. Don’t wait to cast your ballot! Click here.

Why should you vote for TestOut?
  • TestOut’s LabSim courses include video training by expert instructors, written lessons, hands-on lab simulations, and practice exams that prepare you for certification—all in every course.
  • TestOut’s LabSim courses allow you to learn at your own pace and keep track of every action and score you make.
  • TestOut offers the best customer service in the industry.

Here's what other LabSim users have said about TestOut's LabSim training and technical support:
  • “Your customer support group is the best we have ever experienced. One of my students was so impressed they suggested we emulate your support team in our help desk curriculum.” –G. Boswell, IT Instructor
  • “I have always been impressed by the quality of TestOut’s telephone support—technical, sales, or otherwise. Not long ago, I was deployed in Baghdad. Because of security issues, I wasn’t able to install LabSim over the network. I called TestOut’s technical support, and they went above and beyond for me to find a workaround.” –Gary Weber, IT Professional
  • “The problem with CBT Nuggets is it’s just video. When we tried out LabSim, we liked the whole combination of labs, videos, and everything together. That was the best part.” –Jerry Madrid, CEO, IT Company
  • “I used Transcender in the past, and LabSim is so much better. It's more interactive, it has video instruction, fact sheets that you can print out and study, as well as the interactive pieces. Transcender was just a lot of testing and memorizing answers more than actually learning. People ask me about LabSim and I tell them they definitely need to take advantage of it.” –Jeanine Babic, IT Professional

Click here to cast your vote today!