Professional dilemmas

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Q The staff I train are a mixture of computer-savvy and complete
beginners. Am I right in thinking the ECDL is aimed at the less computer
literate and how valuable it is as a qualification?

A Let’s address the last question first. When you are hiring staff,
you’ll find many candidates claim to be computer literate or to know Microsoft
Word and Excel. But what does this mean? Unless you have an objective measure of
what the employee can actually do, the claims can be worthless. Similarly, if
you spend time and money training people, how can you gauge the effectiveness
of the training?

ECDL provides employers with indepen-dent verification of candidates’
competence in using the most common business appli-cations. It provides the
successful ECDL holder with internationally recognised proof of their
abilities. ECDL is a valuable qualification – it has been adopted as a
corporate standard for IT literacy in hundreds of business organisations
world-wide, by Government agencies, educational institutions and voluntary

The level of skill tested in ECDL is not deep, and in this respect it may be
true to say that it is aimed at the less computer literate. However, the range
of topics covered is broad. It aims to test candidates’ abilities to execute
the most common tasks, efficiently and effectively. When ECDL is adopted as the
baseline standard for computer literacy in an organisation, it works as a
corporate productivity tool – it ensures that maximum benefit is derived from
the organisation’s investment in IT.

Most organisations that decide to implement ECDL have a mix of people to
train and test. The training programme must recognise this diversity. Some
organisations provide a programme for complete novices and a fast track for
people with existing knowledge and skills. The resources provided for trainees
should also recognise this diversity – textbooks, computer-based and tutor-led
training all have a role to play.

Response supplied by Paul Holden of Pearson Education, co-author of
numerous ECDL publications, including ECDL Office 2000.

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