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Is the ECDL worth the bother?

I was looking at the ECDL just now, because it's offered in my son's school. I told them no, we didn't want to sign up, because the time spent could be better spent on the normal school curriculum.

So, what's the problem with the ECDL?

So, the theory part of the ECDL is not impressive. What about the practical part? Well, some if it rather easy: you can get 2 marks out of 14 for opening the test, typing your name and saving the document. That's not a challenging start, and students can get another mark for going to a web page, and yet another mark for searching the web for "dog". Is there really much doubt that most students can do that? Does it seem worth wasting two hours of each student's life to confirm that they can point and click? (One hour for the practice test, one for the real test.) Most secondary students, these days, have been doing that kind of thing since they were six years old (assuming their parents had computers).

Now, there are some parts of the test that rise up to provide at least a modest challenge. Some of the spreadsheet and database questions have answers that your average computer user probably wouldn't accidentally learn. Still, that's not enough to over-ride the other bits. And even then, the questions are just about manipulations of mouse, menu and keyboard. No problem solving is involved: in the test, you are told what to do and simply do it. What the ECDL does is to show that someone can do basic manipulations with a computer, if someone tells them EMPH what to do.

In a sense, it is a test for people who want the classical secretarial job of the last century, when secretaries were expected to take dictation and type memos. Such positions are almost gone - the bosses do the typing now, and the secretaries have morphed into administrators who need to do a lot more than just run a word processor.

See also one of the Wall Street Journal blogs.

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[ Papers | | Phonetics Lab | Oxford ] Last Modified Sat Dec 13 17:33:40 2008 Greg Kochanski: [ ]