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Basic Computer Competencies

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Basic Computer Competencies



The TIGER Informatics Competencies Team recommends that we adopt and promote the European Computer Drivers License (ECDL) as the training model for Basic Computer Competencies.  This model has been adopted and in use by over 7 million users over several years, and has a very well developed and mature training program, work book, and testing process.


* European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) is known as International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) in the United States, anywhere outside Europe.


The ECDL/ICDL is composed of 7 training modules that are outlined below:


Module 1 – Concepts of Information Technology (IT)

Module 2 – Using the Computer and Managing Files

Module 3 – Word Processing

Module 4 – Spreadsheets

Module 5 – Database

Module 6 – Presentation

Module 7 – Information and Communication


As this model is generalized and intended to be used in numerous industries (not just healthcare), it might not meet the detailed specifications for privacy and security content that is required to meet HIPAA requirements in the U.S.  Notwithstanding that minor modification, the model has been widely validated and comes with mature training and testing methodology.   A detailed outline of the training content as it links to the competencies collected by the TIGER team is available online.


More information about the ECDL can be found at: http://www.ecdl.com





European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), known as ICDL outside Europe, is the global standard in end-user computer skills, offering Candidates an internationally recognised certification that is supported by governments, computer societies, international organisations and commercial corporations globally.

ECDL / ICDL is the world’s largest end-user computer skills certification programme, with more than 7 million Candidates in 148 countries.

ECDL / ICDL raises the level of ICT and computer skills and allows Candidates to be more productive at home and at work. ECDL / ICDL also improves job prospects by providing an internationally recognised qualification. With a superior syllabus – uniquely validated to ensure that it is always relevant, up-to-date and meaningful – Candidates can be confident that ECDL / ICDL offers a certification of unrivalled quality.


ECDL / ICDL: What is it?

ECDL / ICDL is a test of practical skills and competencies and consists of seven separate modules covering computer theory and practice. To achieve an ECDL / ICDL certification, the Candidate must successfully pass a test in all seven modules.

ECDL / ICDL Module 1 is a theoretical test of computing knowledge at a general level and modules 2-7 are practical skills tests, as follows:

Module 1 - Concepts of Information Technology (IT)

Module 2 - Using the Computer and Managing Files

Module 3 - Word Processing

Module 4 - Spreadsheets

Module 5 - Database

Module 6 - Presentation

Module 7 - Information and Communication


Who is ECDL / ICDL for?

The ECDL / ICDL programme is for anyone who needs to demonstrate to an international standard that they are fully competent in the use of a personal computer and common computer applications and that they know the essential concepts of Information Technology.

Prospective Candidates should ideally have used computers and the common software applications before. Other programmes are also available for those with other requirements.


How does it work?

When Candidates register to start the ECDL / ICDL certification process they purchase a Skills Card on which their progress through the seven tests is recorded. Skills Cards may be purchased from any approved Test Centre. Only an approved Test Centre can carry out testing and issue Skills Cards. Approved Test Centres are approved and monitored by ECDL / ICDL Licensee in each country.


How much training is required?

Usually the Candidate will undertake training on each Module of the syllabus prior to taking the test, although this is not compulsory. The amount of training will depend on the Candidate’s skills levels and the training provider chosen, but the average is around 30 hours of training per Module.

Some Candidates may feel competent enough in one area to forego training and move onto testing immediately, while others may require full training prior to testing. There are various ECDL Foundation approved and Licensee approved training materials (books and computer based training) available so that a Candidate can learn in their own time. Please see a list of approved materials here.


How long are the tests?

Each module is tested separately and each Test generally lasts 45 minutes. The seven tests can be attempted in any order and at any time.

ECDL / ICDL is unique in that it has been designed to be vendor-neutral. This means that ECDL / ICDL is not tied to one type of software. It therefore gives Candidates the flexibility and freedom to acquire core ICT skills and confidently apply them in any software environment they may be required to use. 


ICDL has developed testing programs and services in the United States and more information can be found at http://www2.icdlus.com/icdlus-lms-webclient/


Benefits of ECDL / ICDL

Today, computer skills are increasingly important to people in all walks of life. ECDL / ICDL is an information technology certificate for all citizens. It is intended for those who need to, or wish to, know how to use a personal computer. It is suitable for people from every work discipline, for people entering the job market, and for all ages. 


Benefits for Candidates:

  • Increases essential ICT knowlege/skills

  • Increases confidence in computer use

  • Provides internationally-recognised qualification

  • Improves job prospects and job mobility

  • Provides a platform from which to move on to higher-level ICT education 


Benefits for Employers:

  • Increases productivity

  • Reduces costs

  • Increases the quality of employee output

  • Reduces time wasted

  • Makes better use of ICT resources

  • Provides a better return on ICT investment


ECDL/ICDL Training syllabus

A copy of the ICDL training syllabus is available here: 



ECDL / ICDL Sample Tests

In order to download the ECDL / ICDL Test Sample Paper files to your PC, do the following:

  1. Select the Core Test Sample Paper link provided below

  2. In the dialogue box that appears, select "Open this file from its current location"

  3. In the dialogue box that appears, select the required path to extract files to.(e.g. C:/My Documents)

  4. This will extract all the files into the chosen folder above ( you may require an compressed folder extraction tool e.g. Winzip)

  5. In this folder, open the files and follow instructions.


    ECDL/ICDL Test Sample Papers

ICDL_Sample Part Tests Version 4.zi.zip


Answer Guide for the Sample Papers
ICDL_v4 sample paper.doc
(Answers are provided for the multiple choice questions of the sample papers, please refer to ECDL / ICDL  training materials for information on practical tasks.)


Training Materials

ECDL Foundation does not provide training or course materials directly. It does, however, formally approve course materials produced by certain courseware providers. The course materials available from the providers listed below have been approved by ECDL Foundation, thus ensuring that they cover ECDL / ICDL Syllabus Version 4.0.

Please look for the ECDL Foundation Approved Courseware logo when purchasing course materials. Locally Approved materials may also be available in your country – please enquire to ensure that you purchase approved materials.

The following link provides a drop down menu and direct web link to approved courseware vendors for ECDL / ICDL V4.0:



For all Courseware related queries please contact courseware@ecdl.com.
Visit your Country page to see if ECDL / ICDL is available in your area.


Other Considerations

It's never too late to learn...

Although computers and the Internet are now a part of everyday life, there are still many people who have never switched on a computer and are only vaguely aware of the Internet and its uses. Many of these people would like to know more about computers and the Internet but may feel that it’s too late for them to learn. If that sounds like you or someone you know, EqualSkills could be the answer. ECDL/ICDL has also developed a training course for individuals that do not have basic computer skills, called EqualSkills.







What is EqualSkills?

EqualSkills is a fun, informal and uncomplicated introduction to computers and the Internet for complete beginners.

EqualSkills is designed to give an appreciation and understanding of computers and the Internet; to build confidence; and encourage further exploration and upgrading of skills in this area.

What areas does the programme cover?
The EqualSkills programme covers the following four sections:

Computer Basics

Parts of the Computer

Getting Started

The Keyboard

Using the Mouse

Introduction to the Desktop



Creating a document

File types


The World Wide Web


Web Browser



Email accounts



What will a Candidate learn?
With EqualSkills the Candidate will acquire an appreciation of what a computer can do and what tasks can be executed online using the World Wide Web. On completion of the programme the Candidate will be able to send an email, use some simple programmes and surf the web to look for information on news, weather or hobbies.


EqualSkills Syllabus

A syllabus for the EqualSkills course work is available online: 




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