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Driving ambition with the stamp of approval

The British Computer Society's European Computer Driving Licence qualification is rapidly becoming the systematic computer training of choice for many. Les Watson finds out why it is has been so successful

Computers are expensive. Although machine prices are on the decline, the total cost of ownership is three to four times the price of the machine itself. A major factor in cost escalation is the time that users waste because they don't really know how to use the machine. The common corporate view is that effective computer training is a "must have" item. Many employers are turning to systematic training as a way of increasing efficiency and cutting costs. And the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) qualification is rapidly becoming the qualification of choice for such training programmes.

ECDL is available in the UK under the auspices of the British Computer Society (BCS) and is supported by training materials from a wide range of suppliers. The system is based on seven modules ranging from basic concepts of IT, through file management, applications software, such as word-processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations, to information and network services. ECDL students pay the BCS pound;25 for a log book to sart on the course. Success in each module earns a stamp on the book and a fully stamped log book signifies that you have become a competent computer driver.

For schools and colleges ECDL provides a dual opportunity. First, ICT training for staff and students can benefit from the ECDL approach. Furthermore, using the scheme ensures that successful learners have a stamped-up log book as evidence, and this has currency in the outside world.

The second opportunity is that the school or college can become an accredited ECDL centre supplying training to the public and local businesses. For more information about ECDL, you can visit the BCS website at as well as the ECDL Foundation website - the organisation which decides on the content of the ECDL curriculum - Electric Paper, one of the training companies which supplies ECDL with training materials, also runs a useful "ECDL central" website. If you visit the company's site at www.electricpaper.ieecdlinks.htm you'll find lots of information and debate on ECDL issues.

Les Watson is director of information resources at Glasgow Caledonian University

British Computer Society. Tel: 01793 417417. Email:

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