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Certification Watch (Vol. 17, No. 3)

News about the Big Mac of certifications, hospital a world chapmionship competition and more.

Certification Milestone Approaches

The good folks at CompTIA, the IT industry association that's perhaps the largest provider of vendor-neutral IT certifications, have been validating computing skills for more than 20 years — CompTIA's popular A+ cert was first offered in 1993. They aren't quite at the level of "billions and billions served," the iconic slogan that shouts itself from McDonald's marquees everywhere, but sometime in the very near future, CompTIA will dispense its millionth A+ certification. Which is a plenty impressive milestone for something that requires conisiderably more focus and diligence than slapping two all-beef patties between the halves of a sesame seed bun. To celebrate the occasion, CompTIA and an array of partnering sponsors are offering a fistful of prizes to certification candidates and IT onlookers alike. Prize seekers have until March 31 to throw their names in the hat. There will be 150 smaller prizes awarded, with a "One in a Million" grand prize winner to be announced in April.

Now With Weighted Percents

Because you asked for it, or possibly because they just wanted to be nice, the good people at Cisco Learning Network are making life easier for Cisco certification candidates. Cisco's educational arm recently announced that it has enhanced and overhauled more than 170 certification exam study guides available via the Learning Network's master list of exam topics. The new exam prep materials have added even greater detail to the lists of topics that certification candidates should be prepared to encounter at the testing center. The enhanced study guides give a clear indication by percentage of which topics are most likely to appear in test questions. There's also information to help divide important topics into subtopics for in-depth study. If self-study isn't your thing, or you just learn better with other people around to discuss and discourse, then there's also a master list of study groups to help you connect with others who'd like to be in the same boat.

Security Mentors Ensure Safe Surfing

The IT world recently marked Safer Internet Day 2014 (Feb. 11), and IT security consortium (ISC)2, a leading security certification provider, is going the extra mile to help schools. The organization's charitable (ISC)2 Foundation promoted safer surfing by launching its Safe and Secure Online program at schools in Ireland. The program is largely administered by volunteers, IT professionals who meet with kids in the classroom to discuss cyber-dangers ranging from online bullying to sexting. With the increasing propagation of such highly user-friendly internet access points as tablets and smartphones, younger and younger children are increasingly at risk of casually encountering such cyber-bear-traps as pornography and predation. (ISC)2 launched Safe and Secure Online in the United Kingdom in 2006 and has since taken the program to schools in Canada, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United States. More than 1,200 volunteers have participated since the inception of the program.

The Future Is Next Week

You probably don't need your crystal ball to predict the state of global IT on Feb. 24. The British Computer Society, however, has set aside that day to take a longer look ahead and address some of the challenges that businesses and governments may soon face. A BCS-sponsored webinar is scheduled to be held Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. The group planned the live event in response to a recent poll it conducted, which revealed that just 10 percent of digital leaders feel they are properly equipped to address even short-term IT challenges. The webinar will feature a discussion among panelists, including Oxford-based "futurologist" Chris Yapp, about pending IT problems and how best to address them. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Participants will be able to submit questions for consideration by the panelists.

Where Do You Want To Go Today?

It's been a few months since Certiport and Microsoft announced the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship. Just in case you weren't paying attention in November, or are fishing around for something to motivate your IT students through the final months and weeks of the school year, here's a reminder of the pertinent details: The competition is open to students ages 13 to 22. Students have until June 15 to complete a qualifying exam that certifies their skill at using any of the following Microsoft Office products: Word 2007, Excel 2007, Power Point 2007, Word 2010, Excel 2010 and PowerPoint 2010. Students who qualify to participate in the World Championship will visit Anaheim, Calif., and Disneyland July 27-30. Cash prizes are awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners.

That's all for this edition of Certification Watch. Please keep your certification news and tips coming to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..