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By Mark Emery

You know you did something right when the organization that creates and administers some of the most popular IT certifications on the planet recognizes your innovative approach to training in this trying time.

LeaderQuest: An ACI Learning Company experienced that honor on July 30, when CompTIA announced the IT school as one of six partners to receive their coveted Innovation Award. The tech association credited LeaderQuest for incorporating various CompTIA products “to provide IT training for students even as they were confined to home in the wake of COVID-19.”

“For many IT pros, the knowledge and skills they employ today were sparked and nurtured under the tutelage of teachers, instructors and trainers,” said Joe Padin, CompTIA’s vice president for business development. “CompTIA is pleased to celebrate these educators and the organizations that employ them for their contributions to helping millions of individuals to realize their career aspirations.”

With No Time to Waste, LeaderQuest Didn’t Hesitate

Jennifer StroblIT certifications, ACI Learning’s Director of Program Operations, said that the existing LQLive infrastructure laid the groundwork for an efficient, all-encompassing response to the coronavirus crisis.

Having offered virtual classes since 2012, LeaderQuest added an additional 164 online IT training courses this year — essentially doubling the previous offering.

“We were able to adapt quickly,” Strobl said. “We had to move everything 100% online, and that’s what happened. We’ve done this in the past when there are bad weather emergencies, those types of things. So we already knew a path forward.”

Not that the transition was entirely pain-free. Prior to 2020, virtual training existed as an alternative option to in-person training, available to anyone who might need or prefer it. Now, online has become the only option, and there are varying levels of comfort with that — for some instructors as well as students.

“There was like this stigma and fear around virtual training,” Strobl said. “So we kind of had to break down those barriers.”

READ: 4 STUDENTS ON THE ONLINE TRAINING EXPERIENCE AT LEADERQUEST

Despite those obstacles, which also included procuring resources such as laptops, Strobl estimates that 90% or more of students had positive experiences with online learning.

“We got rave reviews from some students saying, ‘I didn’t have to stop learning,’ ‘The learning was just as good,’ ‘Great instructors,’” Strobl said, “And then you had a couple that were like ‘This is a lot of information to do quickly in a virtual environment.’”

For students in the latter group who had growing pains with LeaderQuest’s online IT training, Strobl said steps were taken to close any and all gaps.

“Anything that they said that they were missing from an in-classroom environment, we tried to incorporate into the online learning,” Strobl said.

Whether Student or Instructor, Everybody Wins

IT education onlineWhen compared with the “mess” of her own children’s online learning experience, Strobl said LeaderQuest’s virtual training looks that much better.

She notes that the rates at which LeaderQuest graduates passed their IT certification exams and became employed in the IT industry were both unchanged from pre-pandemic times. Considering the economic devastation of COVID-19, the latter statistic really speaks volumes.

READ: HOW 3 LEADERQUEST ALUMNI FOUND WORK DESPITE COVID-19

And it’s not only students whom LeaderQuest is serving in these tough times.

“There were contract instructors that started contacting me left and right: ‘Can I teach for you?,’ ‘I lost my day job,’ ‘I need more income,’” Strobl said. “I was able to bring in a lot more instructors to help support the online classes that we were rolling out. They were incredibly grateful to be able to teach for us, knowing that really we didn’t skip a beat.”

For students, instructors, and LeaderQuest itself, online learning has been a resounding success, a win-win-win.

READ: FROM ‘NO GED’ TO A CAREER IN IT

Perhaps the best part, with implications for the future as well as the present: online training has proven to be just as effective as in-person. Analytics from CompTIA’s CertMaster learning platform, of which LeaderQuest was an early adopter, confirm that.

“That was insightful,” Strobl says. “We could show how well students were doing in each objective of the course, because of the way they built the product.

“We did beta testing with that, and their labs. And we were able to see that online learning had no adverse effect for these students across the board. They were still learning effectively, soaking up the information, spitting out the outcomes, and then able to go into exams and employment.”

Factor in online IT training’s potential for exponentially greater reach than in-person education, and it starts to look a lot like the future in Strobl’s eyes. All of which makes LeaderQuest’s industry-recognized virtual capabilities that much more essential.

See About Online IT Training for Yourself

Are you contemplating a career change? Maybe COVID-19 has caused you to reevaluate your priorities, if it hasn’t cost you your job altogether. No matter what the circumstances, IT deserves strong consideration.

Beyond education, so much of how we live and work is moving online, and the career prospects in IT reflect that. For instance, last month the Wall Street Journal reported that, while the overall unemployment rate stood at 11.1%, for IT workers it was at just 4.3%. In many areas there aren’t enough employees for the number of open positions, despite six-figure salary potential.

READ: 5 EMPLOYERS ON WHY THEY LOVE TO HIRE FROM LEADERQUEST

LeaderQuest helps aspiring IT professionals get trained, certified, and hired in this growing, exciting industry. From top-notch instructors to our dedicated Career Services team, we provide every resource that career-starters and industry-changers need as they undertake this new journey. Want to learn more? Fill out the form below and let’s chat.