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Prove You Can Do IT...
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Member Name: angeelu
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Advantages: Internationally recognised, not too difficult, test centres throughout the UK
Disadvantages: Can be fairly expensive
Having recently completed my ECDL Test Centre Staff Training course, and whilst preparing to teach an adult education ECDL course from September I thought I'd give my opinion of the qualification here on dooyoo!
The ECDL is an internationally recognised qualification that lets you demostrate competence in a variety of computer skills. It was designed as a benchmark qualification to enable people to develop their skills, enhance their career prospects and have their abilities recognised.
The ECDL is offered through the British Computer Society and is the exact equivalent to the ICDL (International Computer Driving Licence) so the qualification really is recognised worldwide - I'm told that even the certificates are soon to change to reflect its global status, listing the qualification as ECDL/ICDL.
The qualification consists of 7 modules:
1. Basic Concepts of Information Technology
2. Using the Computer and Managing Files
3. Word Processing
7. Information and Communications
These modules can be taken in any order, but all must be passed within 3 years to gain the full ECDL qualification. This is usually easy enough to do - if you are already fairly competent with computers you can do the qualification in a matter of weeks depending on how many tests you are prepared to take at any one time!
How the course is delivered varies from place to place. There are hundreds of accredited test centres in the UK - some of these offer tuition towards the qualification, others expect you to tutor yourself through online courses or through using text books - the method you choose is entirely down to you. Once ready to take a test in the module you attend your test centre to take the test under exam conditions. Tests are 45 minutes long and are administered either 'online' or 'manually'. This entirely depends on the test centre - the one I work at offers manual tests, which basically means you are given a paper and a disc with the source files on you will need, you do the test using actual software on the PC and the test is then manually marked. For online test centres the test is obviously online - sometimes this will be in a simulated environment, where the software may look similar to that you've used 'for real' but won't actually be the real thing, other online tests use other kinds of testing methods (this depends on the provider for the particular test centre).
Pass marks for the majority of the modules are currently 75%. You can retake a test if you fail.
What Do You Get From It?
ECDL is a qualification in its own right. Passing all seven modules means you'll get the ECDL certificate as well as a credit card sized card that you can carry with you should you choose to prove your skills.
In addition, passing modules 1, 2 & 7 also makes you eligible for the BCS (British Computer Society) ICT User Level 1 qualification, which is a separate certificate which your testing centre should be able to register you for when you sign up for the ECDL. This is free if you are doing the ECDL so your test centre shouldn't really charge you extra!!
Not only that, but your testing centre can also sign you up for the Level 2 qualification - this needs you to pass all the 7 modules for ECDL plus one extra unit (known as Unit E for reasons I won't go into here). This gets you your Level 2 certificate, although there's an additional charge if you want to achieve this qualification too.
For the more ambitious there's a further qualification - ECDL Advance, which isn't offered at all ECDL test centres, but involves taking a further four tests to prove your more advanced IT skills.
Is It Worth It?
I believe so, yes. Many people in the workplace don't have any ICT qualifications but probably use computers every day. These people tend to have a lot of the skills and knowledge required for the ECDL so it won't take too much more effort to brush up on the extra skills and info required to get the certificate. The qualification is recognised by many employers and some employers insist on their staff having the certificate or achieving it within a certain time period from starting with the company. It's a useful addition to your CV.
Many employers are willing to pay for or towards the ECDL certificate, though obviously that varies from place to place.
The ECDL is open to anyone no matter what their age or background. From the complete novice to the more advanced - ECDL is achievable.
The best place to look if you're thinking of taking the qualification is the ECDL website - www.ecdl.co.uk. It gives you details on all the test centres close to you as well as plenty more info on the qualification itself. Alternatively contact your local Adult Education centre, community college, learning centre or whatever you have close to home!
I hope this has been of some use to anyone thinking of taking the ECDL or who would like to gain a recognised ICT qualification. I do think ECDL is a worthwhile certificate as it's often difficult to prove your ICT skills without a piece of paper to back you up. It's easy to say at interview that you have ICT skills, but no matter how good your skills are, the person with the certificate at the interview can prove their skills there and then. It's not just about something to put on your CV though - the ECDL offers a chance to prove to yourself that you can achieve an ICT qualification and many people gain a lot of personal satisfaction when they work through the course and come out with an internationally recognised qualification, whether they did it in order to get a job or just to prove to themselves that they could do it!
Good luck if you take the course, it's not too hard and if you're already competently using the internet and writing opinions for dooyoo then you're part way there so far as your skills are concerned!!
My rating - * * * * *
Summary: Whether for personal satisfaction or to help get a job - ECDL proves you can do IT...
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