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In subsequent chapters, you'll learn many general details about your computer and using software. Right now, let's learn just what the ICDL is and how you can benefit from taking the exam and gaining certification.
ICDL stands for "International Computer Driving License." It's a certification of basic competency with computers. This certification is now available in more than 90 countries worldwide. More than two million people have taken one or more of the ICDL certification exams.
Just as an automobile driving license certifies your ability to safely and competently operate an automobile, the ICDL certifies your ability to operate a computer. Increasingly, employers and academic institutions are looking to the ICDL as a way to determine whether potential employees and students can function well in the modern computer-oriented world.
Why should you undertake the time and expense to learn the material in this book and acquire your ICDL? Here are some good reasons:
You'll have an internationally recognized way to tell employers that you know enough about computers to be an asset in the modern workplace.
You'll likely increase your own knowledge and broaden your education as you look into areas of computing that you were not previously familiar with.
You'll be prepared to go on to more advanced studies, concentrating on the parts of computing that your job requires or that really interest you.
You'll increase your own confidence and competency with computers.
The ICDL is the international version of the ECDL, the European Computer Driving License. The ECDL is administered by the ECDL Foundation Ltd., which launched the original ECDL program in Europe. The ECDL licenses administering bodies in each country where the exams are available; outside of Europe, the exam is known as the ICDL rather than the ECDL, but it's the same exam and it covers the same material.
There is one tiny part of the syllabus that varies from country to country: the coverage of information security and privacy laws in the Concepts of Information Technology module. Other than that, you need to be familiar with the exact same material to pass the exam in Perth, Paris, or Pittsburgh.
The process of obtaining the ICDL in the United States starts by contacting the ICDL U.S. Program. You can find information on contacting it by visiting http://www.icdlus.com/contact.html or sending email to info @icdlus.com. The Program can help you find the most appropriate organization for taking your ICDL exams.
After you register for the ICDL, you receive an ICDL Registration Card, which tracks your progress toward the ICDL.
The ICDL consists of seven different exams, called modules . We'll look briefly at the individual modules later in this chapter and then devote one chapter to the skills covered by each module. You can take the modules in any order you like. Once you begin, you have two years to complete all seven modules successfully to obtain your ICDL.
The ICDL modules are performance-based, vendor-neutral, and platform-independent. This means that
To pass a module, you actually need to carry out a number of computer tasks that are applicable to that module. For example, in a spreadsheet module you might be asked to calculate the sum of a column of numbers and save your result.
The skills tested by the ICDL apply equally well to software from any computer vendor. This distinguishes the ICDL from vendor-sponsored certifications such as Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications.
The skills tested by the ICDL apply equally well to different versions of software. You're demonstrating general computer competency, not the exact steps required to carry out computer skills on a PC running Windows or a Macintosh computer.
Although the certification is vendor-neutral and platform-independent, when you take an ICDL module you are tested on a particular combination of hardware and software. For this book, we've chosen to demonstrate the ICDL skills by using the applications from Microsoft Office 2000, running on Windows XP on PC-compatible hardware.
The ICDL modules are proctored. That is, there will be a representative of the ICDL monitoring your work as you complete the tasks required by each module. Each module has a 45-minute time limit. You can take each module as many times as you need to pass; however, each time you take a module you must pay a testing fee.
There are several ways to study for your ICDL. First and foremost, you should actually use a personal computer. "Book learning" can't substitute for hands-on experience, although it can help guide you in the right direction. If you don't have daily access to a personal computer to study, check your local library; it might well have public-access computers that will help you learn the basics.
There are also a wide variety of training courses available for those learning the ICDL skills (or many other computer skills). And, of course, books such as this one give you a systematic review of the skills you need to know. The ICDL maintains a list on its Web site of books and training courses that have met the high standards established by the ECDL Foundation. You should also look for the Foundation logo, which you'll find on the cover of this book, as your guide to approved materials.
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