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The only driving licence I will ever get!
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Member Name: ~*pink-pilgrim*~
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Advantages: Such a versatile qualification
Disadvantages: Can be expensive
I have just completed my ECDL and thought I'd write this review to give you my opinion of the course in general and the certification.
What is the ECDL?
The ECDL is a European wide qualification showing competence in the use of IT. Inside the European Union the qualification is known as the ECDL however outside this boundary it is known as the ICDL (International Computer Driving Licence). The ECDL / ICDL is currently available in 148 countries around the world.
The ECDL is offered by many institutions and is described as the 'benchmark' qualification for gaining employment in an office or IT based employment. The ECDL is split into seven modules. Modules 1, 2 and 7 must be passed to achieve a level 1 certificate, however to achieve level 2 all seven modules must be passed.
The ECDL can be awarded at any certified centre such as a college, university, community school or a Learndirect Centre. Whilst it can vary between each centre In order to gain certification I had to purchase a log book (looks like a passport) from the learning centre, this book costs £50 and will be stamped following each successful exam pass. This log book is essential as it holds a unique number personal to each candidate and is required for registration to the BCS.
The modules can be taken in any order, however I was told to take mine in level order e.g. Module 1, 2 and 7 first to gain the BCS IT User - Level 1 certificate and then Modules 3,4,5 and 6 to gain my Level 2 qualification.
What does the ECDL involve?
I completed my ECDL at a Learndirect centre and the course was classed as E-Learning. I really enjoyed learning this way as I could learn at my own pace and practice my skills as I learnt. I am fairly confident with I.T and computers anyway but lacked the formal qualifications to prove to an employer. When I started working at Learndirect I was told I would have to gain my ECDL to be able to teach it. The way my course was structured enabled me to prepare for and take the test with great confidence in fact I achieved 97% on 6 of the modules and 100% on another.
Each module involves some element of practice, although module 1 seemed very tedious and dull compared to the others. I worked from Syllabus 4 and 4.5 and used Microsoft Office 2003 (otherwise known as XP). The syllabus number is likely to change as the course develops and learning centres are now working from Microsoft Office 2007 so as technology evolves so does the course.
The seven modules that make up the ECDL are:
1. Basic concepts of IT
2. Using the computer and managing files
3. Word processing
7. Information and Communication
Module 1 - Basic Concepts of IT
This module gives a little information about the use of computers and how IT relates to everyday life for example education, medicine and business. The module also contains a lot of heavy information such as Bytes, ROM and RAM. I found this module quite tiring as there was a lot of information to remember and a lot of it was very new to me.
Module 2 - Using the computer and managing files
I quite enjoyed this section as I was very confident with the use of IT and using my computer. I was surprised at how much I knew to be honest. Everyday tasks such as creating a folder and saving files was included in the section. It took me 4 days to learn the information required for the test and I achieved 100% on the end test.
Module 3 - Word processing
I thought I knew everything about word processing until I took this course. I learned how to do a mail merge and was very happy with the course. The best thing about the ECDL module 3 is that I have learned information that has a use in everyday life. The whole syllabus was useful and taught me new information that I would use daily to save time.
Module 4 - Spreadsheets
Again the spreadsheets module was very useful as it taught me other ways of doing tasks. I used to create a formula by clicking each cell but I have now learned that the cursor can be dragged to include more than one cell, making it much easier to create a formula. This module again was very useful and I really enjoyed learning new things as well as the alternative methods to do things I was already competent with.
Module 5 - Databases
Now this was one module I was dreading from the start. I have always hated and almost feared Database. I have never been able to see the point in it and have always struggled to understand how to use Database. My dad has attended many training courses to use Microsoft Access and until I started the course I had always hoped I'd be able to use database one day. The course was so well structured that I can now confidently use Database and the biggest achievement for me was gaining 97% in the end test.
Module 6 - Presentation
I have always enjoyed using PowerPoint and the ECDL taught me how to use PowerPoint correctly. I learned that the design of a slide is easily maintained between slides by using the master slide. It certainly taught me how to save time and I feel a lot more confident with creating a uniform presentation now.
Module 7 - Information and Communication
I have always used Hotmail as an email provider and am not familiar with Outlook Express at all so the course taught me many skills needed for sending and receiving mail using Outlook Express. I found this section quite easy and dropped a mark in the test for a typing error, but I am always making them so I wasn't surprised in any way.
There is also an opportunity to take 'Unit E' which is based on Using IT in general although this unit will not give you any extra certification it is there as an addition piece of information to place on your CV.
When you are ready for your test you will be required to contact your learning centre in advanced although this notice period will depend on your test centres policy it can range from anything between 1 day and 3 weeks from booking to actually taking the test.
Shortly after taking my level 1 modules (1,2 and 7) I received a certificate from the British Computer Society saying that I was competent in the use of IT at level 1. I am still awaiting confirmation of my level 2 qualification.
Some learning centres will charge you for taking the tests at anything between £10-£30 a time but my Learndirect centre did not charge and it was free to take tests, although re-tests were charged at £10 a time. It really does depend on where you take your test and who you do your course with.
How much does it cost?
The course is not cheap and can cost anything between £200 and £350 depending where you chose to study however Learndirect offer the courses free to people on a means tested benefit. IF you do not currently hold any other qualification e.g. GCSE's you may be able to get the course free through Learndirect as part of a Government Initiative so its worth a go. The log book which is mandatory will cost anything between £20 and £50 depending on where you go and is required for certification.
If you would like to buy course books additionally it can be quite pricey. Many books range between £7 and £25 depending on date and syllabus.
Overall I would recommend the ECDL to anyone wanting to gain a qualification in IT. The course is flexible and you can work at your own pace. I would highly recommend the Learndirect way of doing the course and if you have no other qualifications you can convert the ECDL into an ITQ (NVQ in IT). I think the course is well worth the effort and I am happy that I did it.
Summary: It really is worth taking the ECDL!
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