NSW state department takes computer training for a spin

A new online computing course which gives individuals their own accredited computing drivers licence is in pilot phase at the NSW State Department of Lands.

The new e-learning course, which was officially launched this week by online training provider Webster Publishing, is based on the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL), a standard now used to determine and credit the level of computing skills of more than three million computer users in 100 countries.

Although the standard has been used for over 18 months internationally, Webster Publishing is the first organisation in Australia to offer a course based on ICDL.

Webster Publishing managing director Tony Webster said the standard was developed to enhance the skills and confidence of both teachers and individuals learning to “drive” computers.

Webster said his company developed its ICDL-based course with the assistance of the School of Education at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The course has since gained the seal of approval from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the ECDL Foundation governing worldwide ICDL standards.

The Webster Publishing course consists of seven modules, offered over the Internet or via CD-ROM. Topics covered in course modules include spreadsheets, word processing, presentations, database management and the Internet. Practise assessment activities based on simulations of each of the programs used in the course are also available online.

NSW Department of Lands spokesperson John McClymont said the department has been piloting the course since August last year and endorses the program as a way for staff to gain basic competence training in computing. The program initially started while the department was still classified as the Department of Information Technology and Management. The Office of Information Technology was moved to another department group following the recent March state elections.

McClymont said the course was originally offered to all staff through expressions of interest. More than 300 submissions were received, representing around one-third of the department’s staff; 100 were then chosen to pilot the program.

McClymont said of those staff who have undertaken the course to date, 21 have completed all seven modules, while some opted to only go as far as the fourth (certification) module. The course will continue to be offered to all staff within the Department of Lands, he said.

Online training for the department’s staff was provided by Webster, while face-to-face training was provided by development unit of the Department of Lands and TAFE. Final testing was provided through TAFE.

Those interested in accessing the Webster course will need to purchase a 12-month subscription to the company’s online eLearning site, available for a one-off fee of around $100. This includes access to all of the course modules as well as practice ICDL tests. Organisations or educational institutions purchasing multiple subscriptions will receive a discount off each individual fee.

ICDL tests are currently conducted by TAFEs and registered training organisations, as well as by international online e-learning organisations (more information on these sites is available on the ACS Web site: http://www.acs.org.au/) .

Webster said his company also plans to introduce testing facilities to its online services in the coming months at an additional charge to the subscription price.

More information on the new Webster ICDL e-learning course is available at: www.websterselearning.com.

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More about Australian Computer SocietyAustralian Computer SocietyDepartment of Information TechnologyOffice of Information TechnologyTAFEUniversity of New South WalesUniversity of New South WalesUNSWWebsterWebster Publishing

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