* Prices may differ from that shown
The ECDL was something I initially encountered some 4 years ago and it was of interest to me because it is an I.T qualification which is recognise throughout Europe. Fortunately the computer course itself was being held at a location only a few miles away where I reside and so commuting was not a problem.
The course is broken down into 7 areas each of which will be assessed via an online multiple choice test and these are
Use Of I.T Systems The first of these modules is simply a very basic overview which will allow to understand the functions that I.T has particularly in the work place.
Operate A Computer - This is simply showing people particularly people who for them this is a baptism of fire, how a computer operates but in very basic terms.
Word Processing - You will learn how to type a document and to do basic things things such as creating a template and mail merge
Spreadsheets - On Microsoft Excel basic formulas will be introduced as well as a foundation grounding in if statements
Databases - Databases allow you to hold huge and extensive amounts of data. The module shows you to create this data and useful facilities such as how to filter this data for specific criteria.
Presentation - The presentation module deals with Microsoft Powerpoint and teacher the user on how to create a slide show presentation.
Internet Intranet and Email - This will teach you the basics of emailing, attaching files to documents, sorting the emails.
With this basic overview, you are then in a position to undertake the Level 1. You are assisted by some fairly big books which accompany each of the modules. However they are written in a user friendly and will provide you with numerous working examples to undertake until the learning becomes easily absorbed.
This course is essentially a starter course for those not completely unfamiliar with computers but who are something of a novice. Having said that, it is very useful to do because from acquiring the knowledge and confidence, should you then wish to, you can then further your learning by undertaking a Level 2 course. This will provide you with the opportunity to learn much more but will also mean the information and ideas are somewhat more complex.
I enjoyed doing this course because I did learn a little from it and gave me the confidence to further my learning with Microsoft Excel. I thought the course is very manageable, presented in a clear and straight forward manner and thus provides you with more than sufficient preparation to successfully pass the test. If nothing else, the course will also provide you with something you can add to your resume.
It might be too simplistic for more experienced users but that also means you will be quicker to obtain the qualification from it. On successful completion of the course you will be issued with a an ECDL card to although obtaining the ECDL expert card makes me able to fool many more people with my I.T wizardry "cough"
The European Computer Driving Licence is an internationally-recognised computer course covering all the basics of PC use and the Microsoft Office suite. I've used computers extensively for years but did not have any formal proof of my knowledge when job hunting so I've got very bored of sitting numerous repetitive IT tests when signing up with each agency. When I saw that my current employer offered the ECDL, therefore, I jumped at the opportunity to add it to my CV - and in work hours as well. Bonus!
The ECDL is run through the ECDL Foundation and my employer has a licence from them to run both the basic and advanced courses. I'm keen to do the advanced ones but decided to quickly run through the basic course first - you never know what handy hints you might pick up. The basic course is much cheaper (it was subsidised at my work so only £90 for the entire certificate, which my department paid for as part of my personal development). Each advanced module is £100 through my work, which is quite pricey but I'm hoping I can convince my department to pay again! As I haven't done the advanced modules yet, this review will concentrate on the basic course.
The basic ECDL course covers 7 modules (below). Each is an online course that you can work through in your own time, with simulations of the computer desktop or program that you practise each task on. The program usually shows you how to do a task (such as cutting and pasting, for example) and then you get to practice it yourself in the simulation, with the computer correcting you if you go wrong. Each module is divided into many smaller sections, which makes it less daunting and much more manageable and means you can take regular breaks to rest your eyes (or brain with some of them!). There are also mini-quiz sections where you can practise your new knowledge under test conditions. You can repeat sections, or modules, as often as you like, and then, when you're ready, you sign up and take the large mock-test, which is extremely thorough. You can also take this as often as you like and it is a useful indicator of how you're doing and whether you're ready for the real test - you have to pay extra to re-take the real test so it's a good idea to pass this first time. If you do well on the mock then it's time to sign up and take the actual module exam, which has (depending on module) around 25-40 questions and takes up to 45 minutes.
You can take the seven modules in any order you like, so can start with those you feel most confident about and work up to the more tricky ones. The modules are:
1 - Concepts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
This is really, really basic computer usage, from why and where computers are used to what viruses are etc. It's quite boring to be honest and you have to remember a lot of random facts that you really don't need to know to use a computer (such as how many MB a zip drive has). Our IT teachers actually recommended doing this module towards the end as it puts people off if they do it first! If you have never used a computer before, however, this would be quite a useful grounding in the basics.
2 - Using the Computer and Managing Files
This covered using the desktop, saving and moving files, backing up documents onto another drive etc. Mostly stuff I do without even thinking by now although, again, it would be very useful for those new to using a computer. For the rest of us it's just a module to work through quickly and get ticked off.
3 - Word Processing
i.e. Microsoft Word. Everything from opening files, saving, formatting text up to mail merging.
4 - Spreadsheets
i.e. Microsoft Excel. Again opening files and saving etc but also using templates and formulae and creating charts.
5 - Using Databases
Microsoft Access. Setting up a database, creating forms, running queries, filtering information etc.
6 - Presentation
Microsoft PowerPoint. Using templates and designs, formatting text, adding images and charts, slide show options.
7 - Web Browsing and Communication
The internet and Microsoft Outlook (email); using browsers and search engines, receiving and sending emails, organising your email folders etc.
The guidelines suggest each module will take around 30hours, but this is really dependent on your current knowledge. I've used computers daily and these programs (except Access) for years so I whizzed through each module in a couple of hours. I did Access from scratch in half a day, but it was quite a major brain drain so I'd recommend taking a bit more time (I had an exam deadline!). Even though I probably could just have gone straight for many of the exams, it's worth working through each module's online course because often you have to do the task a particular way (for example, cutting sometimes required you to use the scissor icon and you could not use CTRL+X or 'edit->cut'). I also learned a couple of handy things I didn't know about, such as the hyphenation option in MS Word, so it was worth working through the material.
Although the course is sometimes a bit frustrating when you can't do a task the way you would do normally (I found this particularly with PowerPoint as I know lots of short cuts that the program would mark as incorrect), overall I think the ECDL is an excellent course both for those who do not know these programs and want to learn them, because it covers everything from the complete basics up in an easy-to-understand format, and for those who know the programs but need to prove it to potential employers. The course was mostly interesting and kept my attention, and did not take very long to complete (I did the whole lot in 3 weeks because my employer was phasing it out, but suspect normally you'd spread it out over a few months). I particularly liked the fact that in the exam you gained points for each part of a question you completed - many I have done before only gave you one mark for up to four tasks and if you couldn't do all four of them you got 0, which is frustrating. In the ECDL you would only lose the point for the final part you couldn't do, which is much more sensible. I think the ECDL qualification is very good value for money, particularly if you can do the course through your work as part of your career/skills development. The only downside is that there is no Mac version for these users.
I have to declare an interest here, I make my living teaching ECDL (European Computer Driving License) and other similar qualifications, so you know where I am coming from.
ECDL version 4.5 is as has already been mentioned an Internationally recognised qualificaion. In these troubled times, you never know when you might need a qualification that is recognised in a different country (only kidding).
It is from The BCS (British Computer Society) suite of qualifications. The BCS is the regulatory body for computer profesionals in this country, in much the same way that The Law Society regulates Lawyers and the British Medical Council regulates Doctors. This means that unlike some ICT qualifications out there, it is worth the paper it is written on.
You can do ECDL at levels 1, 2 and 3. At level 1 you learn about Computer Basics, File Managenmet and Electronic Communication. At level 2 you learn how to use Microsoft Word processing, Excel Spreadsheet, Access Database and Powerpoint presentation packages properly. You then take a general pop up, unit E, this rounds off your computer knowlege, and gives you the piece of paper to prove it. After you complete each module you sit a 45 minute exam which usually consists of about 20 questions. You require a 75% pass mark. Some of the tests are done online.
What some people don't realise is that you can go on to do ECDL at Advanced Level with Modules in Microsoft Word processing, Excel Spreadsheet, Access Database and Powerpoint presentation. When you reach this stage you are entitled to be called Microsoft Expert. The Exam for this level lasts and hour with 20 questions. It is quite hard to reach this level but, the skills you gain will allow you to enter a teaching course in ICT, Demonstrate a high level of skill in the workplace or run your own business effectively.
It's worth remember ing that your ECDL is equivalent to a GCSE and ECDL Advanced is Equivalent to an A-level so you really will have achieved something worthwhile.
The European Computer Driving License has been around for a number of years now and is gaining in popularity all the time. I have noticed it showing up in more and more job advertisements as it shows that a candidate has a good all round knowledge of computer systems.
There are a large number of people out there a bit like myself who left school with a smattering of O'levels and possibly RSA stage 2 typing but who have been working on computers for many years, be it wordprocessing, spreadsheets, finance packages. They can't however apply for a job because although they can write a wee macro, add up figures, send emails they don't have the piece of paper to prove it. I decided to rectify this situation a couple of years ago and enrolled to take an ECDL course by elearning.
- - The Certification - -
Once you are registered with an ECDL Centre, a logbook with the 7 modules printed in it is issued. As each module is completed your logbook is stamped so you can take a partially completed logbook to a new provider if you move etc.
The modules may be taken in any order and over any period of time up to three years from the date of the first exam. When all 7 modules have been successfully passed, a certificate will be produced by BCS.
The ECDL also known as the ICDL is a recognised qualification in 148 coutries.
The ECDL covers a very broad range of skills: The exams can be taken using Office 2003 or 2007 whichever one you are more familiar with. Depending on where you take the exam it can be paper based e.g. you take the exam and have your work marked and the result in a few days or you can take the exam online (my preferred method) where you get the result immediately on completion.
- - The Modules - -
1. Basic concepts of IT
2. Using the computer and managing files
3. Word processing
7. Information and Communication
The pass mark for each of the modules is 75% so be warned while it's not the most difficult exam in the world this is quite a high mark to pass
- - Breakdown - -
ECDL Part 1 Basic concepts of IT
This module introduces you to the basics of a computer and the concepts of IT. It covers types of computer, processors, applications, data storage and memory and the uses of information networks.
You will also gain an understanding of how IT systems are found in everyday situations like ATMs; and will cover issues such as RSI, security and the data protection act.
ECDL Part 2 Using the computer and managing files
This module introduces the basic functions of a computer and the operating system. It teaches the desktop, understanding and organizing files, formatting and backing-up, directories/folders. You learn how to copy, move and delete files and directories/folders.
It also covers how to work with desktop icons and to manipulate windows and to use search features, simple editing tools and print management and using the recycling bin.
ECDL Part 3 Word processing
This module teaches from basic operations to the more complex. You will create, format and print documents, set page sizes experiment with tabs, tables, inserting pictures, etc. as well as covering merge letters and tables.
ECDL Part 4 Spreadsheets
This module teaches you to create a spreadsheet, format it and use basic formulas and functions. You will also be expected to import objects and create graphs and charts. Editing of graphs, using colours, shading, different types of tables will also appear on the exam. You will be required to find values in a column such as the maximum, minimum and average.
ECDL Part 5 Databases.
This module teaches you the basic concepts of databases. On completion you will be able to design and create a simple database, retrieve information from an existing database by using the query tool , create and amend reports and create and amend forms.
ECDL Part 6 Presentations.
This module teaches you the basics of using presentation software. You will be able to accomplish basic tasks such as creating, formatting and preparing presentations to make a powerpoint show. It covers how to create a variety of presentations for different target audiences or situations. It also teaches how to insert, pictures, clip art and use various slide show effects.
ECDL Part 7
Internet and Email. This module teaches you how to search the web to get better results. It also covers how to use search engine tools, to bookmark search results and to print Web pages and search reports. It also covers how to use electronic mail software to send and receive messages, how to attach documents or files to a message and to organize and manage message folders or directories within your email software. The exam is not based on any specific email programme.
- - The most popular ways to take this course are - -
An intensive course where you attend a College, Training provider for 7 days and take an exam at the end of each day
One Year Course - You attend College for 3 hours per week, from September to June taking an exam every 4 weeks or so.
Elearning - Study the course at home and attend a local College\Training Centre to take your exams.
As I was already pretty computer literate I chose the elearning method, I was able to access the online materials at a time which suited me and could choose whether to take days, weeks or months over the study. Access was via the internet 24 hours a day, a broadband connection being pretty much essential.
E-learning is particularly suitable for those with other commitments or a busy lifestyle; it is also appropriate for those who require certification as fast as possible. I only really concentrated on the Access Module as although I have used it I hadn't been using it on a daily basis. I was then able to go into College and take 3 exams one day and 4 the next. After 2 days studying and 2 days of exams I had the piece of paper proving that I could use a computer.
- - Tips - -
Just because you use Word and\or powerpoint everyday does not make you an expert, these two modules are the most commonly failed as folks don't bother attending class or studying the elearning course as they think they know it all. You may be surprised
For the online exam check your spelling - a human may be able to see what you mean and mark it correctly - a computer cannot.
Practice, practice, practice - Keep a spreadsheet and make a graph of your Christmas or monthly spend. Create a database of relatives, names, addresses and birthdays. Use these tools in every day life and they will stick with you.
Access is usually the most frightening exam as people do not tend to use this very often. Don't worry - if you can create a table, query it and make a report and form from it and have the ability to edit these pages then there is nothing new which will be thrown at you in the exam. Surprisingly this exam gets the highest pass rate.
For online exams you need to know how to print to file and how to paste a screen dump.
I hope this is helpful - good luck
Find the full ECDL syllabus at
The price for an elearning ECDL from my local College is £43 for the course, £27 for the logbook and £50.00 for all seven exams. You can purchase the course as a standalone for £43 but I would advise you to take the exams and gain certification.
I wouldn't recommend you jump in at this level if you are only a beginner on the PC or if you only use it for dooyooing and surfing - try clait first.
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.
I can find my way around a PC pretty well, mostly self taught but I've also had some formal training in databases and a couple of statistics packages. Although I would consider myself computer literate I had no way of proving this to potential employers. When I was looking for jobs I saw ECDL mentioned a lot in the person specifications so I decided to enrol for the course.
ECDL or the European Computer Driving License is a qualification which is recognised throughout Europe which covers all of the main areas which you are likely to need in the workplace.
Because of the nature of the course, it is taught in a flexible manner. I studied at a community learning centre affiliated with a local college for a couple of hours a week. This means you can start at any time and work through the syllabus at your own pace.
This course is ideal for someone who has some prior knowledge of computing, anyone who is computer literate enough to have found this review will have the skills needed to start. Believe it or not there are still plenty of people out there who have never used a PC at all and they would need some training at a very basic level before they would be able to do ECDL.
The course costs around £200 including all assessments. It should be noted that currently everyone in Scotland regardless of income qualifies for an ILA of £100 a year towards technology courses including ECDL, but I dont know if that applies in the rest of the UK. There are loads of ways to pay including fee exemption for many groups so it is worth researching all options if you are interested.
The course is split into seven sections:
1 Basic concepts of IT
A potted history of PC development and things like the difference between RAM and ROM and the internet and world wide web. Fairly easy but you need to memorise the different terms.
2 Using the computer and managing files
Again fairly easy how to manage your desktop, delete files, copy files and move files around.
3 Word processing
How to use microsoft word to type and edit documents. I've been using word for years and managed to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way.
How spreadsheets are used, desiging spreadsheets and making reports from them. A fairly long module but not too hard.
I hate databases with a passion. The longest and trickiest module using microsoft access. It seemed to take me forever to plough my way through this one.
How to use powerpoint. I had never used this package before but it was a really simple and short module.
7 Information and Communication
How to surf the net and use email. Talk about teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, this part was a doddle. You can use outlook or outlook express for the testing, I chose outlook as I'd never used it before and learned a lot about a new package.
I cant really say I enjoyed learning ECDL, but I'm glad I did it and have the piece of paper to show to employers. Teaching will vary, at the learning centre I used I was given a CD and paper copies of the materials to take home with me and also a free copy of microsoft office (they had the license to copy it unlimited times for educational use and I only had works at home). I could consult a tutor at any time if I had a problem but only really needed a tutor to book the tests for me. The software was designed by zig zag and easy to use. The testing was done online with enlight, each test had 36 multiple choice questions with a 75% pass rate.
The ECDL is a qualification which is worth studying for as it is a widely recognised way of proving you can use a PC and so my give you the competitive edge when it comes to applying for jobs.
For more information go to www.ecdl.co.uk.
This review covers ECDL sylabus 4, covering Microsoft Office 2000 and Office XP, as well as XP updates
The Electric Paper ECDL Approved Single User CD.
I had a go at ECDL three years ago, for the GBP170.00 I gave the college admin, I was handed a CD and was told I was given the first of all seven module exams free, there after a failure of any module exams, meant I would pay a further GBP15.00 re-sit, which I didn't want to do.
Here are the seven modules of the disc, in which you may start any module, given your knowledge of P.Cs and Office.
Module 1. Concepts of Information Technology (IT)
Module 2. Using the computer and managing files.
Module 3. Word Processing.
Module 4. Spreadsheets.
Module 5. Database.
Module 6. Presentations.
Module 7. Information and Communication.
For people starting out on ECDL, I would say do them as they are set out, although most people leave the first two till last as they have some knowledge on Microsoft Office and its different user functions "Excel, Power point, Word etc".
You can do this in the home, in your library or nearest college, I found doing it in college was best as all books that accompany the different syllabus's are decked out in the college library, plus you have the choice of doing it outside of regular college hours. That's not to say you shouldn't revisit and refresh the stuff you have already learnt, in the home.
For the ECDL course you will need a set of comfortable earphones, ones with small earphone jacks, as most PCs are kitted with the smaller sockets, a new writing pad and pen, it would be wise to invest in an ECDL book, and perhaps a plasstic paper wallet (polly pockets).
Doing the ECDL is time consuming, If you don't want to be forking out another GBP15.00 for a re-try at any failed Module exams.
The disc is going to be your best friend and worst enemy rolled into one, the disc has a user friendly set out, there is four separate functions- hear, see, do, check, this is all self explanatory, you might find after a while, the voice over gets a bit irritating, especially if you have to listen to something a couple of times over.
Once you start your course work, you will have a lengthy TWO years to complete it, this is more then ample even for those who have busy lives, I did 1 Module a month for the first 3 months passing all with a score better than 90% for all three, incidentally, you do need a score of 75% to pass a module, you can't curry favour and have someone pass you for GBP20.00 as the whole set up is done by computer, a point and click type deal.
ECDL is a qualification that has become very sought after in most jobs as employers want people who are trained in this PC literate world, it is a European wide held qualification too, meaning no matter where in Europe you are, the qualification is a warranted one.
Hopefully this has put any questions to rest, the staff are their to help, so don't be embarrassed to ask a question, even if it does seem a bit silly, and good luck.
Last autumn, I was faced with a quandary. I had been seriously job hunting for some time, and although I was well qualified for the positions I was applying for, the same stumbling block kept appearing time and again: the need to prove "IT literacy". This could be phrased in a variety of different ways, but amounted to the same thing - how do you demonstrate to a potential employer that you are capable of using a computer competently? I knew that I could use IT well enough to do the jobs I was applying for, but my only ways of demonstrating this were rather intangible (I used Word and Excel in preparing my thesis; I had given a couple of PowerPoint presentations when I was a student; I regularly used database software in my then current job). The problem with using statements like this is that they don't help make your CV stand out from the crowd; most people can use Word to some extent, it is not clear from such evidence just how well I can use the applications I mention, and there is nothing to prove I did what I said I did (after all, someone else could have word processed my work, and there is no hard record of my presentations that an employer could check). How, then, could I get around this problem?
The answer seemed to be that I needed some sort of qualification to demonstrate clearly to employers the level of IT competence I had - and if possible, to improve it. I really had no idea what sort of qualifications existed to do this, so I went about researching my options, knowing that I needed a qualification that:
1) Could be completed in my own time, without the requirement to attend classes
2) Had flexible start times, so I could begin straight away
3) Covered the most commonly used applications for an office environment
4) Was at the right level for me to prove what I could do (and learn a bit more if possible)
5) Was affordable
6) Was a widely recognised qualification
It became apparent very quickly that the academic qualifications I was used to (GCSE and A level) were not going to fit the bill. Delving further, I found that there were a wide range of IT qualifications at a variety of levels, in about every application you could think of. I looked first at Microsoft Office Specialist certification; this was certainly a recognisable qualification and was widely available, but was expensive (over £350 in most course providers) and included Project, which I didn't think I needed at this stage in my career. CLAIT, although more affordable (I could do it for around £60 to £100 via distance learning) was too basic for what I wanted, and many courses I looked at offered in-house certificates that I was concerned employers would not recognise. If I was going to spend a lot of time and money doing a course, I wanted to make sure it was the right one for me - that was when I came across the European Computer Driving license (ECDL)*, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
- What is the ECDL?
The ECDL is an end-user IT qualification governed by the ECDL Foundation, which is currently available in, and recognised by, 148 countries worldwide (see www.ecdl.com/publisher/index.jsp). The foundation is a non-profit organisation seeking to promote IT education, and is backed by the European Commission and UNESCO amongst other organisations. This backing and international availability has made the ECDL is the world's largest computer skills certification programme, which has 7,000,000 candidates enrolled on it at any one time, and is intended to both improve access to IT, and to help make those who pass it more employable. It is a course intended for people who want to demonstrate competence with a PC, and who have ideally used a computer before**; you are by no means expected to be an expert, but if you were able to access this review, then you have sufficient prior knowledge to become an ECDL candidate! The ECDL is what the National Qualification Framework would class as a "level 2" qualification; this puts it in the same band as GCSE grades A* to C and NVQ 2 (where "level 1" covers GCSE grades D to G, NVQ 1, and CLAIT; and "level 3" covers A levels and NVQ 3). The ECDL course is administered in the UK by The British Computer Society or BCS (www.bcs.org).
- What does ECDL cover?
The ECDL is made up of seven modules that cover the most common uses of PCs, with candidates needing to pass a short test in each module to be awarded the certificate. Modules 1 and 2 are mostly theoretical, while modules 3 to 7 each cover an application area:
1) Introduction to IT
2) Managing files and using a PC
3) Word processing
6) Presentation software
7) Internet and electronic communication
One of the advantages of the ECDL is that it is vendor-neutral (i.e. it isn't specific to one software package). This means, while most people will study using Microsoft Office (i.e. they will use Word for module 3, Excel for 4, Access for 5, PowerPoint for 6, and Internet Explorer/Outlook for 7), you could also apply the course to any other comparable software (such as Open Office, for example). I will from now on refer to the MS Office applications, however, as these are the ones I used to take my ECDL, and which most people will use on this course.
The ECDL syllabus is regularly updated to make sure that it remains useful, relevant and meaningful to candidates; the current syllabus is version 4 (see www.ecdl.com/products/index.jsp?b=0-102&pID=108&nID=204) ***, and this can be taken in MS Office 2000, 2003, or 2007 - or a mixture, if that suits you. I took most of my exams on Office 2000, apart from Word, where I was more used to the 2003 version. This flexibility allows for candidates who have upgrades during their course, or for people used to using one package at home and another version of it at work, for example.
- How much work is involved?
The amount of study required for each module will vary on your level of competence and training provider, but the ECDL Foundation suggest around 30 hours per module for beginners. Personally, I found that about half a day going over the syllabus was necessary for the modules I felt confidant with at the start (1, 3 and 7), up to about 15- 20 hours for the Access module, which was an application I had never used before (although I had used other databases), so was my weakest module. With this amount of study it took me three months to pass the ECDL, from initially registering as a candidate to passing my final test, whilst working full time (and moving house!). Candidates are allowed a generous three year period from the date of passing their first test to finish their ECDL, so can take the course at their own pace.
- How much does it cost?
Costs will vary depending on how you choose to do the course. It is available in local schools, colleges and adult education centres with taught classes, by distance learning from a range of providers, or you can just do the tests if you feel you are already up to the standard required. The cost of classes and distance learning materials varies (classes will be priced locally, but to give you an idea, distance learning materials advertised online at the time of writing cost from around £40 with e-careers.co.uk, up to £200 with ICS). The variation in price with distance learning is dependent on the type of materials you want and whether you feel you need tutor support in your course (which makes it more expensive than going it alone). A word of caution, though; some of the cheaper courses are cheap because your payment buys access to online materials for a limited time only rather than your own copy of books, CD ROMS, etc. If you are in receipt of means tested benefits (such as Job Seekers' Allowance) it is worth contacting Learn Direct (www.learndirect.co.uk) for information about free or subsidised ECDL courses in your area.
I bought a textbook ("The Complete Coursebook for Office 2000" for £15, currently £20, see http://tinyurl.com/22yatf) and interactive CD ROM ("Teaching You ECDL" for £9.99, see http://tinyurl.com/226qe9) from Amazon, which gave an easy, accessible and inexpensive entry into ECDL. The book and CD ROM balanced each other out in terms of study methods, and helped build on what I already knew by filling in the gaps in my knowledge. I recommend this as a good approach if you already have a reasonable level of IT literacy; if you are more of a beginner or lack confidence, then it might be worth considering paying more for a tutored course.
On top of course fees, you must pay to register as an ECDL candidate (about £25) and pay an exam fee for each test you do (about £20 each, although some providers will offer you a discount for paying for all seven tests up front). So, the total cost for me for study materials, registration and exams was £190.
- How is it examined?
The test at the end of each module lasts 45 minutes, and asks 32 questions based on the material in the syllabus. The pass mark is 75%. This sounds like quite a lot to fit into the time allowed, but I found that I managed to complete each of the tests in 10-20 minutes without any problems. There are two formats for taking ECDL tests; some test centres offer paper-based exams (that are sent away to be marked), while others offer the online versions via a programme called Enlight (where your marks are produced straight away by the computer). You can take the tests in any order as soon as you feel ready to do so; the only restriction is that you must complete the entire course within three years of the date you pass your first test.
When you feel ready to take a test, visit www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.7062 for a list of local test centres. Listings are arranged by postcode, and include information on whether a test centre offers tutored courses, distance learning options or "test only" facilities (i.e. you can take a test without having to attend a course at the centre). For a society based around professional computer use, however, I found this search facility to be not that good - it was often slow, the results weren't always up to date, and you could only produce a limited range of local centres with each search. If these centres weren't appropriate for any reason, you would need to key in another local postcode or town to widen your search - having further pages of results getting gradually further away from your original location choice would have been much more sensible. Equally, listings didn't include the opening hours of testing centres (a vital consideration if you work or have other commitments) or the format of the tests offered (paper or online), so you then have to contact centres individually to find out these things for yourself.
Once you have chosen your test centre, you will then need to register through them as a candidate with the BCS - your test centre will take your details and a payment (around £25), and then the BCS will issue you with a logbook (which looks like a passport, and is stamped and signed by the test centre when you pass each test) and a candidate number. You cannot take any of the tests until you have received and signed your logbook, as this holds the record of your tests. Once you do have it, you are ready to go. All you need to do is contact your test centre at least two working days before you want to take your test(s) to book it, then turn up on the day with your logbook and some ID (such as a driving licence or passport). I cannot speak for the paper exams, but the process I went through in taking the online exams was to sit an untimed practice test first (included in the price of the exam) before taking the real thing. You are permitted to do some extra study or take a break before the real test, but once it starts, you are under exam conditions - mobile phones off, revision materials out of sight, and no asking for the answer! Questions usually took the format of asking how you would perform a certain task (e.g. "where would you click to save this document?") and you can respond by clicking on the appropriate place in the screen shot below the question (in this case, the save button or the file menu would both be correct) and then selecting the "accept answer" button when you are happy with your choice. The computer programme can tell you if have clicked on the correct place, so it is able to give the results of your test as soon as you have finished it. When you have finished your last test, your logbook is returned to the BCS, who will then issue you with your certificate after about two weeks.
- Is it worth doing?
Absolutely! The ECDL is an excellent qualification to have, as it shows practical competence across a range of useful skills at an appropriate depth for most office based jobs - someone who has an ECDL can not only type a letter and send emails, for example, but also build databases, create PowerPoint presentations, and will know about computer health and safety. This is a valuable qualification to employers because of this. When I was interviewed for my current job, I answered the inevitable question on IT abilities by stating that I was studying for the ECDL in my own time; this not only satisfied the interviewer that I was capable of doing the computer-based tasks of the job, but it also impressed him that I was doing it on my own time and money. Aside from that, I found it a satisfying and enjoyable process, and it has improved my confidence it in using computers - especially in using Excel, which I had quite an aversion to previously!
Highly recommended - I just wish I'd done it sooner.
*Outside of Europe, this qualification is known as the International Computer Driving License or ICDL.
**If you know someone who wants to start at a more basic level, the ECDL Foundation offers beginner courses too, see www.ecdl.com/products/index.jsp?b=0&pID=102&nID=115.
***There is also a syllabus version 4.5, but this is only available in and recognised by the UK. Version 4.5 has minor adjustments to modules 1, 2 and 7 to bring it into line with other UK IT course standards.
© Collingwood21 2008
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 - * * * * *
Well since leaving school at the young age of 16 due to health reasons I have decided to further my education by taking on this course recommended by the Job Centre called European Computer Drivers License (ECDL) to enhance my job prospects. The ECDL course is available through most colleges and also some agencies may have it available as it is a very popular course. There are 7 modules in the course and the time it takes to complete all 7 really depends on your knowledge on computing. Within the 7 Modules are different programs which include: Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Basic Computer Knowledge (eg. name 2 differences between Rom and Ram), Internet and E-Mail followed by maintaining file maintenance. I was put forward for this course through my local jobcentre and because I have a disability I am automatically able to go on the course (depending on room left on course). If you dont qualify because you have a disability I think you can be put forward (aslong as you are unemployed) as training for Work and you will still recieve your benefit with around an extra £20 a fortnight added. If you just fancy a change and want to go on the course I think you can go to the college and go through it but I believe you will have to pay a certain amount to go on the course. I am really enjoying the course so far and once you have finished the beginners module you may go onto the Intermediate level and then Advanced. After each module you can sit an exam (set whenever you feel you are ready) and if you are unsuccessful when you sit the test I believe you are able to sit it again. During the exam you are set a certain amount of questions and you are marked out of 30, during this time you are NOT allowed to browse through the books you read to complete tasks although you are allowed to check on the computer to see if you can remember the method, I find this quite helpful and I think it makes it easier to pass the exams. The cour
se enables you to gain knowledge on these programs which can be used in general day to day office skills such as word processing, data input or creating databases or tables for example. At the end of the day once you have completed the whole course successfully you are awarded a credit card sized card which has the name of the course you sat with your details on it so you can prove to employers that you were awarded with a completion of the course. I have so far found this course to be very worthwhile and I would recommend it to anybody who is thinking about applying for an office job, even if you are a computer novice I Find the books you are given very self explanatory. Overall I think this course is a big success and I would recommend it for those who wish to gain further career prospects and knowledge of Microsoft Programs. For more information on the course and its availability ask at your local job centre and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
~ ~ It’s not too often you find the “mad cabbie” writing about “techy” computer type stuff, but I’ve decided to give this one a go. The “E.C.D.L.”, or to give it it’s full title, (for the last time, because it’s a right mouthful!) the European Computer Driving Licence. ~ ~ 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!) My
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. ~~~~~~~~~~ #Spreadsheets# 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. ~~~~~~~~~~ #Word Processing# 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. ~~~~~~~~~~ #Database# 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. ~~~~~~~~~~ #Presentation# 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) ~~~~~~~~~~
First off, I must apologise for breaking two of my dooyoo golden rules. I have a policy of only writing opinions about products and services that I have had successful (or otherwise) experiences of. This op is slightly different in that I have only just come across this offer, but I need to tell you about it now. The reason for this will become clear as I explain, but if this turns out to be dodgy, please forgive me. I have somebody checking it out with the DFEE for me, so if this op suddenly disappears, you will know why. My second broken rule is that of not writing lots of opinions in one go. This will be my third this week and so for that I apologise. I really wouldn't want you all to get fed up of seeing my name pop up on the new opinions list, but I thought this one might be too good an opportunity to let slip. I was visiting one of the free stuff type sites last night (allfreeuk.co.uk) and I came across this offer for a complete PC system for £25. I was quite taken aback by this to begin with and rushed to the offer site as quickly as I could. Once I got there, I realised that we are not talking a top of the range PC here. Let me explain further. In order to promote the European Computer Driving Licence qualification, this company, SSC Carrera have teamed up with the ILA Goverment Grant Training Scheme to provide both training material and a basic PC to almost anybody who requires it. The conditions you have to meet are: You are over 19 Resident in the UK Not in full time education The PC they supply you with really is a basic spec, but for anybody who does not have one already (I guess if you are reading this you do have but you might know somebody who hasn't) or who would like a second PC for the kids or a partner who is PC shy, this is a great opportunity. And in addition, you are provided with the training material to allow you to study for the ECDL qualification. You do have to take an exam a
t the end if you want the qualification and I imagine you would have to pay for this. The PC spec is: -Pentium 100MHz (min) up to 166MHz -Memory 8MB (min) up to 32MB -Windows 95 -14" (min) Monitor -CD-ROM Drive -Keyboard -Mouse All PCs are second hand but have been reconditioned to make sure they are in proper working order. They come with a 90 day warranty so if something goes wrong within this time they will send you a replacement. There is a delivery charge of £11.75 (unless you can collect it from Tamworth), but at £36.75 for a complete system, I think this is quite a bargain. This offer is advertised on the http://www.buyb4sold.com website (they sell computer systems and peripherals). It is only open to the first 2000 applicants and so that is why I had to write this op quickly. I have applied for one for my husband and will update this op if I receive the PC successfully. If you want to learn more about ECDL and what it involves, read Harlequin1's opinion entitled "Are you qualified to drive your computer?" or visit the ECDL official website at http://www.ecdl.com/ UPDATE: I still not heard anything about my application. If anybody reading this has applied for one and has had a response, perhaps you could let me know. Or if you have actually received a PC, I would be really interested to know. Thanks Jo
European Computer Driving Licence? What’s that?! And why does it have such a dodgy title? The ECDL is the European-wide qualification, which enables people to demonstrate their competence in computer skills. It is designed specifically for those who wish to gain a basic qualification in IT. The ECDL is broken down into seven modules, each of which must be passed before the ECDL certificate is awarded. The seven modules that make up the ECDL are: · Basic concepts of IT · Using the computer and managing files · Word processing · Spreadsheets · Database · Presentation · Information and Communication (you can find the full syllabus at www.ecdl.co.uk) The ECDL is an internationally recognised qualification, and is fast become THE benchmark IT qualification in the UK. One of the main advantages of the ECDL is that if you already have the knowledge of one or more of the modules you don’t have to do a course about them. You can just take the exam. Why waste time going over old ground? It’s boring. This way you can concentrate on the modules you are less experienced with. There are hundreds of test centres and training providers around the country. You don’t have to take all of the modules with any one training provider either! You need a log book (available either from a training provider/test centre or directly from the British Computer Society (BCS) the board that regulates the ECDL in the UK). As you take your exams your log book is stamped. Once you have all seven modules ‘stamped’ you send your book to the BCS and they send you back your certificate. There are a variety of training methods available also; from class-based lessons to online self paced materials. List of test centres can be found at www.ecdl.co.uk and lists of training providers can be found at www.learndirect.co.uk . I have heard of some dodgy peo
ple selling ‘online’ ECDL door to door, BEWARE! Steer well clear, as they seem to just be rip of merchants. I’m pretty qualified to talk about online ECDL, I have my ECDL and the college where I work offers training for the qualification online. (Actually I look after the online students). I think I need to define what is meant by an online course....it is a course delivered over the internet, that you can access from an internet connection – I know a few companies are calling cd based training materials online, which isn’t really the case. When sourcing an online training provider the thing to check is that the company offers tutor support (assuming you want to be able to get help if you need it), it’s also wise to see a sample of the training materials, some companies have online courses that are little more than word documents you can download. So, having said all that, all I can talk about it how our courses work, I think other training providers offer similar....with our course you are issued a username and password which enables you to log into your own training area. From there you can access the modules of the ECDL that have been allocated to you. The course includes pre and post tests so you can see how well you are doing, and the actual course is interactive, talking you through step by step everything you need to know. You can jump through parts of the course if it’s a topic you already know, or spend longer on a topic you’re not so sure about. This way you can spend more time on the parts that are of interest; so hopefully, you’re less likely to get bored. Once you’ve finished your study for a module you take your exam at your nearest test centre. If you’re local to us we offer the addition of free mock tests you can take here as many times as you like. (I don’t want to sound too much like an advert for our training mate
rials, so I’ll point out again there are other companies that offer a similar product) Cost - well this varies between test centres and trianing providers. None of the costs are set. Usually, the cost of the log book is £25. (If a provider is charging you more than £25 get one directally from BCS instead!) Exams vary between centres, I have seen them for as little as £7 and as much as £20 per module. There are two exam methods, paper based, and online. The online exam is still taken at a test centre, but you are able to get instant results. Course costs vary a great deal also, but with us, using an ILA (see below for more on ILAs) you can get training in all the modules for £46 (less if you don't need all the modules). One way to help fund your course is to use an Individual Learning Account (ILA). This is a government incentive that will offer 80% discount for ECDL (and some other IT and maths courses, and 20% discount for other courses). Even if you don’t want to do ECDL, if you’re thinking of doing any training at all apply for an ILA by telephoning 0800 072 5678, almost everyone is eligible! Anyway, email me if you want to know more about our courses, or to find a list of training centres look at www.ecdl.co.uk or www.learndirect.co.uk .
What is a European Computer Driving Licence? The European Computer Driving Licence is a recognised qualification in computer literacy. It is broken down into seven modules, each of which must be passed before the ECDL certificate is awarded. The modules are: Basic concepts of IT Using the computer and managing files Word processing Spreadsheets Database Presentation Information & Communication. The ECDL was launched in the UK in 1998 and has been promoted by the British Computer Society. Now in its third year, the total number of candidates has reached over 1 Million worldwide, over 140.000 of those candidates being from the UK. The beauty of ECDL is that it is open to everyone - regardless of age, education, experience or background. It is a qualification that is to be phased into the education system and will soon be compulsory, the same as Maths and English. In March 2001 the ECDL Foundation Ltd. launched its advanced version of the qualification. Unlike the core ECDL where a candidate receives a certificate following a pass in all seven modules, ECDL Advanced is a more intensive programme that puts candidates through their paces on a module by module basis, awarding a certificate at the successful completion of each module. The Advanced programme has been rolled out initially with the two most requested modules, Advanced Word Processing and Advanced Spreadsheets, and will be followed by the release of other Advanced level modules throughout 2001. The Advanced level design for these modules anticipates that candidates have already mastered the skill sets and acquired the specific knowledge outlined in the core ECDL Syllabus and are now ready to move on to a higher level. How can you get an ECDL? There are many on line training providers who cover the ECDL
in their courses. Learn Direct, Blink Training and Vistavision Training to name just a few. Local Colleges will also have courses available. The courses usually cost around about £150 depending on the area you are in and what funding there is available. Most training providers will be able to supply you with an Individual Learning Account, which will cover the cost of the course although you will probably have to pay extra to be tested. Beware of door to door salesmen trying to sell you ECDL courses. If it is going to cost you anything then take care. There is enough funding out there for everyone to get this qualification without having to pay for it. In our area salesmen are trying to charge between £25-£50 for these courses. Believe me, this money is going straight into their back pockets. If anyone is interested in doing the ECDL training without it costing anything apart from the cost of the test, contact me (my email address is on my profile page) and I will help point you in the right direction. Testing has to be done at an accredited test centre. These are situated all over the country. Ring up and make an appointment to sit your test. The same again though, shop around for where to do your test. Some test centres charge £15 for each module, some charge £50 for all seven. Tests can be done one module at a time. If you are not completely confident that you could pass the test ask if you can sit a sample test. These should be free. You will be supplied with a driving licence logbook, which will be filled in every time you sit a module. When you have completed all modules you will be awarded your certificate. One more thing, DON’T WORRY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. If you have managed to read this opinion you probably know enough about computers to sit modules 1,2 and 7. It’s a qualification that is not hard to earn, but may make all the difference in the wor
ld to your job prospects. Remember it is a worldwide qualification. Let’s all go work somewhere warm.lol. Happy learning! Update 29/10/01 The government have now suspended their Individual Learning Account scheme due to the amazing uptake of Individual Learning Accounts and also due to the aggressive selling of ILA's and the low quality of training by some training providers. Anyone who has already recieved their ILA membership numbers can still recieve funding as long as they get signed up to a learning provider before December 7th. If you have applied for an ILA and have recieved your membership number but haven't signed up to a learning provider yet, email me and I will try to point you in the right direction to get good quality course work.
As a member of the IT industry for too many years than I care to remember, I am always interested in new ideas to bridge the skills shortage. This is NOT it. It is a useful tool for people who use a computer as part of their job, but not as an entry into IT as a whole. It is too basic, too Jack-of-many-trades, and sounds too damn easy to pass. (I admit to having not done it, and am scared to death that I would fail it if I did, just like the real driving test). Having not done the test, I am writing an opinion on the ECDL, and its merits as a route into IT, as opposed to a review of it. ****Update**** To paraphrase "A journey starts with a single step" or something similar. After a discussion and a think about the article, I have decided I may have been a tad unfair on the ECDL. Any entry point that will allow you to begin the "journey" is worthwhile. While I do not change my position that this will not help you to gain a position instantly in IT, for anybody returning to work, changing careers, or have never touched a computer before, then I have been harsh on ECDL. it should be seen as a basic start, and the means to an end. That end should not be a position straight away, but using the skills gained in the short time, use it to , as I say in the article prior to this update, gain entry to an HNC course. It does not change my rating of ECDL though. Hope the update makes what I was trying to say clearer. ***End of update **** The basic modules (Database/Word Processing/Spreadsheets/Presentation/Information i.e. Internet/IT Concepts/how to use a computer type thing) will give you a basic grounding in how to work a computer, but that is it. A I think ScotGirl pointed out in her opinion, it seems very PC oriented, so maybe it should have been more correctly titled European PC Driving License. When I first went to college, my HNC consisted of most of the above except the Internet mo
dule(which I saw for the first time when I started my degree, and there wasn't any pictures), and each of the subjects lasted for 40 hours. This was still only a basic grounding, and I had to spend many years learning more. Even with an HNC, it was difficult finding that first IT job, so I cannot see it being any easier with the ECDL. If it is a route into IT that you want, and not just to make yourself feel less computer-illiterate, you need to look elsewhere. If you wish to feel less computer-illiterate, and be able to show people (i.e. employers) then an ECDL will be right for you. If you are trying to get a route into IT, experience is the key. All the qualifications in the world do not guarantee entry. Most companies with a skills shortage require somebody who can slot straight into their system and do the work. If you have an interest in joining us in IT (You must be crazy), then by all means do your ECDL, but follow it up with something more concrete. HNC Night classes are a good start, or if you can afford it, go the whole hog, and do a product specific "boot-camp" such as MCSE. I gained my HND while working at a newsagents from 5am to 8am, and then night classes after college. I was lucky and had a wife to support that, I will admit. Most employers will still want to see experience as well as the "bit of paper", so do computer work for voluntary organisations, and record all that you do. Six months helping a voluntary organisation create a database will look a heck of a lot better on your CV than a simple ECDL. Cost wise, I agree with ScotGirl, that one of your highest priorities should be to get yourself an ILA (Individual Learning Account) as the number of places for the free £150 towards your course is limited to the first million people. A lot of course providers are aiming their courses now at the £175 price, because they can advertise them as costing only £25 (which they
are if you get the £150 from the government. I am lucky in that my company will pay another £150 on top of the governments into my ILA) In Summary (and in my opinion), the ECDL is for extreme beginners, who wish to record the fact that they can work with a computer without being scared of it. It can give you an entry into an interview because I am sure most employers who are looking for non-IT staff that use computers will pre-select somebody who has a qualification such as this. Advanced entry into IT requires more than this.