European Computer Driving Licence

Despite having a naff name, the ECDL could soon become one of the standard qualifications of computing and IT. The ECDL is intended to demonstrate that the person possessing an ECDL certification is able to understand basic concepts of computers and their usage. You do not need to accumulate a certain amount of experience to obtain an ECDL; it doesn't matter if you've never touched a computer in your life or if you're a 1337 5cr1p7 k1dd13. All you have to do is follow the ECDL syllabus; it is made up of seven modules, which are divided into categories, which are divided into "knowledge areas", which are in turn divided into "knowledge items". Each module contains a "Getting Started" category which contains the basics of that module. Mercifully, the ECDL syllabus is constant throughout the whole of Europe.

All of the seven modules must be completed to pass:

  1. Basic Concepts of Information Technology (IT)
    Basic computer security, terminology, how to turn it on and off, the involvement of the telephone network in IT, the Internet and health.
  2. Using the Computer and Managing Files
    File directories and subdirectories, saving files, loading files, printing files, copying, pasting, deleting and editing files. Arf.
  3. Word Processing
    Typing it in, saving, formatting, search and replace, pagination, headers and footers, and mail merge.
  4. Spreadsheets
    Rows and columns, basic functions and charts and graphs.
  5. Database
    Primary keys, querying and generating reports.
  6. Presentation
    Formatting text and pictures, ordering slides, charts and transitions.
  7. Information and Communication
    Bookmarks, printing, sending email, replying to messages and sorting messages. The WWW and email, basically.

Geeks may not like the fact that the ECDL is not so subtly geared toward Windows systems. The jargon and features covered are all oriented toward PCs, Windows 9x and Microsoft Office. This is not a good thing if you want to teach someone about Linux, as only the first two or three modules are actually OS-independent.

Getting the ECDL is fairly easy if you already know your stuff. Just go to a proper training centre, and ask. They should give you a logbook in which your progress is recorded.

Once you receive the logbook, you then have 3 years to pass the tests for all 7 modules. Each time you pass a module, your logbook is signed, and when all 7 modules have been signed for in your logbook, you can exchange the logbook for the ECDL certificate. Got that? And now you've got the certificate, you can pin it on your wall to impress your technophobic parents, take it into your job interview to impress your prospective employer, or cross out your name and sell it to someone else at a profit!

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