The European Computer Driving Licence: A Standard of Basic Competence for Personal Computer Users

The European Computer Driving Licence: A Standard of Basic Competence for Personal Computer Users

Michael Sherwood-Smith (University College Dublin and ECDL Foundation, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-70-4.ch015
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There is a recognized need to spread computer literacy across every level of society to generate an inclusive global information society, in which every citizen has an opportunity to participate (WRC, 1998; Dolan, 1997; European Commission, 1996; Green Paper, 1996). The visionary comments and actions of Commissioner Bangemann of the European Commission sparked off the recognition of the need for a computer literate population. He suggested that launching initiatives in areas of education, training and work organization was a basic requirement for supporting inclusion for the citizen in the information society. Establishing the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) as a basic standard of computing competence for every citizen underpins this objective. Computer literacy programs based on encouraging and motivating people to obtain an ECDL support the objective of including all citizens in the development of our information society. ECDL deployment programs have been launched to address the recognized need to increase computer literacy. Some of the issues raised in the European Commission reports were the following: • Greater efforts must be made in our schools, to prepare the next generation to participate and benefit fully; • Greater efforts must be made to stimulate European citizens to create content for new services whether education, entertainment or business; • Continued efforts must be made to keep Europe at the forefront of technology and infrastructure development and deployment for everyone; • Sustained efforts must be made to increase the public awareness of the benefits of active participation in the information society; • New collective efforts are needed to realize broader social benefits, particularly at local and community level. The European Computer Driving Licence addresses most of the above issues. The overall objectives of the ECDL dissemination program are: • To raise the level of computing competence for all European citizens, for those in the work force, seeking to join the work force, for those at home and for students. • To increase the productivity of all employees who need to use the computer in their work. • To enable better returns from investments in information and communications technology. • To ensure all computer users understand the “Best Practices” and advantages of using a computer. The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) is a certified standard of basic competence for the users of a personal computer (any brand of personal desktop or portable computer). The ECDL, discussed subsequently in detail in this Chapter, is a certificate awarded to a person who has achieved a basic standard of knowledge of the concepts of information and communications technology and has acquired a basic standard of competence using a personal computer. The objective of this chapter is to describe the ECDL standard. It gives the background to what has been done in Europe, with the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) initiative. It describes the ECDL standard in terms of content, procedures for certification and the organization around the deployment of the ECDL. It concludes by outlining the development plans for the ECDL and the aspiration to establish a ‘de facto’ standard through the general acceptance and worldwide take up of the ECDL concept.

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