John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk


I've been investigating the ECDL recently (the European Computer Driving Licence), and I think it looks like a decent idea. The syllabus covers various basic skills which are useful to have, so I can see it being a helpful qualification for job-seekers and employers. Kings have some training materials online, so I've been going through them, and I've booked myself in to take all 7 modules next Friday; I'm assuming that I'll be able to pass them all first time without much difficulty, so it makes sense to get them over and done with.

As a developer, I don't really need a qualification like this. However, despite my first reaction, it doesn't automatically follow that an IT professional will know how to format page headers in Excel etc. And there are one or two new things that I've learned by doing this. I'll probably have a go at the MOS exams later in the year, for similar reasons. From a personal point of view, it is useful to be more productive at using applications, and is relevant to my project (e.g. preparing Powerpoint presentations, doing charts in Excel). There is the argument that you can just look stuff up in the online help when you need it, which is certainly true (and a useful skill in its own right). However, you need to know that the options are available in order to do that. E.g. if you didn't know that Word came with a spell-checker, you might be looking every word up in a (paper) dictionary instead. And job-wise, it means I can provide better support to end-users, as well as evaluating this qualification for recruitment purposes (i.e. seeing how useful it is if we see it on a CV).

Mind you, there are a few problems I've come across. Some are caused by me knowing too much. For instance:
"A home PC does not require a modem to send email - True or False?"
Technically, the answer is True, e.g. my home PC doesn't have one - I use a router which is connected to our LAN. However, the answer they want is False, since they are thinking of a more simple/typical scenario.

There are also cases where the training software is rather inflexible about how you answer questions. In some cases it hasn't phrased instructions properly, e.g. when it says "use the mouse to do X", that doesn't mean that you can click on a toolbar button, it means you have to use a popup menu. And it tends to ignore things that are actually valid ways of working, if it hasn't been set up to handle them (since it's emulating software rather than using real applications). For instance, in one case it asked me to open a file using the standard dialog box. I double clicked on the filename, and it said "You should have clicked on the 'Open' button". So, the next time I saw a question like that, I clicked once on the file to select it, and was about to click on the 'Open' button when it said "You should have double clicked on the filename". Aargh! At least be consistent with your stupid rules... Anyway, I'm hoping that these won't be an issue when I use the testing software, but I'll have to wait and see.
Tags: computers, ecdl, exams

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