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The Easy Way To Become A Computer Whiz Kid
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Member Name: kenjohn
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Date: 14/02/02, updated on 15/03/02 (1692 review reads)
Advantages: see opinion
Disadvantages: see opinion
~ ~ This is a basic, ground level computer qualification, that is well within the grasp of nearly everybody to obtain, even if (like me) you consider yourself a real dunce when it comes to the mysteries of the computer.
It can also prove extremely useful when you are applying for a new job, as most companies now require their employees to have at the very least a basic grounding in IT, (Information Technology) as the mighty computer seems to be taking over more and more tasks in the workplace these days.
~ ~ So what exactly is it, and what does it consist of, I hear you ask?
Well, the basic idea started in Finland of all places, but has now spread to nearly every European country, and is a recognised and highly regarded qualification to have down on your old C.V.
The plan was to simplify the mystery and jargon of the computer world for ordinary people. The designers of the course reckoned that the easiest way to do this was to break down the information and learning process into seven different modules, covering all the different aspects of computing, so that people without much (or any) computer experience could learn in easy stages, and thus not feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they had to take in.
I’d heard and read about the qualification, but it was only when my “better half” arrived home from work one day at the beginning of 2001 with the declaration that her employers wanted her to take the course, and that they were going to supply us with a brand new PC (free of charge) for her to study on, that I became really interested. (mercenary old devil that I am!)
wife is in senior management, and would have already been fairly conversant and competent with using things like spreadsheets and databases, but in other concepts of computing was almost completely ignorant, like when it came to how to get the best from a word processing package for example.
On the other hand, I was fairly competent at using a word processor, as it was part of my degree course when I was taking my journalism degree, and what I didn’t already know from that, I had picked up from general experience on the computer over a number of years. But databases and spreadsheets were like an unknown foreign language to me. (totally incomprehensible!)
So I was immediately roped in to lend assistance (and loads of moral support and encouragement) in the areas she was a novice in, and she was able to help me to understand the intricacies of what in the past had been as clear to me as Double Dutch. (We fell out a few times though!)
~ ~ I suppose I better mention what the basic seven modules actually are at this point.
#Basic Concepts of Information Technology#
As it says in the title, this module gives people with no knowledge of the computer world their first introduction into the mysterious world of the grey box. (or any other colour these days)
If you don’t know the difference between your mouse and your hard drive, or if you wonder just what the h*ll people are on about when they start using all these expressions like Megabytes and Gigabytes, then this will explain it all to you in simple everyday terminology. And it’s amazing just how simple it really all is when it is explained in this fashion, instead of by some computer “nerd” who automatically assumes you already know all the basic terminology.
If you’re anything like me, then your knowledge of spreadsheets probably starts and finishes with making the
bed in the morning. My wife had no problem with this module though, and what it does is to give you all the ins and outs of using a programme like Microsoft Excel, and how to sort out the different columns, cells, and so on.
All the little tricks and tips you will ever need to work with a package like Microsoft Word. Fonts, margins, formatting, inserting images, etc. It’s all explained in this module.
#Managing files and how to use the computer#
This module explains all the basic functions of a PC and the different operating systems it can use. You’ll learn how to manage your desktop and all the different icons, and have some fun learning how to copy/move/print/organise/ and delete files and folders.
This shows you how to set up and work with a database, and how to use all the different tools available when you’re compiling or changing a report.
How to use graphics, charts, and different types of special effects to create effective and visually pleasing presentations for all sorts of different uses.
#Information and Communication#
If the World Wide Web was a thing of mystery and fear for you before studying this module, then fear no more.
It’s split into two parts. The first (Information) shows you how to use a Web browser and search engines to find the information you need, and then how to bookmark, save and print the information once you have found it.
The second part (Communication) shows you all you’ll ever need to know about email applications. How to send and receive messages, to attach files and images to an email, and how to set up and manage files and directories for storage of your information.
~ ~ Now there is a test at the end of each modul
e that you have to pass in order to qualify for your certificate, but most of the questions are fairly simple and of the “multiple choice” variety. If you’ve even been half listening to what you have been taught by your tutors, then this is really a bit of a doddle, and the pass mark is set at a fairly low level.
I know that I managed to sail through the test papers that were supplied to my wife, and you can even look up specimen papers on the ECDL website. (address at the bottom of the opinion)
Even if you somehow manage to fail a particular module, then you can have another two further attempts to pass it, before you have to admit that you’re a complete failure when it comes to IT!!
~ ~ So that tells you (very basically) what the course consists of.
So what does it cost, how do you go about enrolling for it, and how long will it take you to complete?
My missus did it in a four-week intensive course that was paid for by her employer, and attended two full day sessions a week for the four-week period.
The total cost was about the €380 mark (£230 Sterling) and this included all tuition and the invaluable CD that comes with the course.
But tuition prices vary, and the simplest thing to do if you are interested is to enquire at almost any local College in your area that does night classes to get an idea of the overall cost.
The basic price per module is set by the ECDL people at only €20 (about £12.50 Sterling) per module, and there is also a one of charge of €40 (£25 Sterling) for what they call your “logbook”. This logbook charts your progress, and once you have passed all the modules, you simply send it of to the ECDL folks and they’ll post you back your lovely new IT qualification.
~ ~ Lots of private companies have now been set up to train people in this type of computer qualification, and most advertise either in Yellow Pages (Golden pages here in Ir
eland) or in the Classified ads section of the newspapers.
Most further education colleges also have this on their curriculum for both day and night classes, and again prices for the tuition will vary a bit from region to region. You should be able to find a College that suits both in the time of the class and in the cost factor.
If you happen to be unemployed, or even a bit hard up and can’t afford it, then it’s well worth approaching your local Labour Exchange, as the Government (both in the UK and here in Ireland) are very keen for people to retrain in IT and to improve their work skills, and will usually spring for either all or part of the cost of the course, depending on your individual financial circumstances.
If you’re employed, you might try approaching your employer, and asking them to sponsor and pay for the course for you. They do get a better-qualified employee at the end of the day!!
And the last option is the one I will be going for. You simply get the CD and log book, and then study yourself at home. You’ll still have to go to an accredited College to sit the final exam, but this way you can do it at your own pace and in your own time. Since I’m renowned for saving a penny whenever possible, and since I’m fairly sure I can fly through the course in any case, having already done all the work for it while helping my wife, this is the approach I am going to adopt.
I’ll let you know how I do in due course.
~ ~ By the way, this is not only a “European” qualification. It’s recognised worldwide, and in countries outside the European region it’s called the ICDL. (International Computer Driving Licence)
So what’s stopping you? You too can be a computer nerd if you really fancy it, and earn yourself a very useful qualification along the way.
Websites for further information.
http://www.ecdl.ie/ ( In Ireland)
http://www.ecdl.co.uk/ (In the UK)
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