Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Learn to 'drive' a computer - at the shopping centre
Keywords Learning styles, Technology
MerNet, a collaboration of Merseyside further-education and sixth-form colleges, has launched an outreach information technology (IT) training scheme, based on the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) syllabus, with learning stations in community and shopping centres and business and industrial premises throughout the region. MerNet combines the resources of nine colleges operating 14 main training centres and more than 100 learning stations. The scheme aims to provide literacy and numeracy, and through online learning materials to offer IT skills to people who would not normally enter a mainstream college.
A major difference between MerNet and other college consortia providing IT training is the siting of learning centres in locations that will attract students. These include, for example, a trade union office in Wirral Metropolitan Centre, a Marks & Spencer food-processing company, a factory, a rugby club and a day centre for single mothers. A crucial factor in the scheme is the European computer driving licence, which provides a widely-recognized certificate of proficiency in IT skills. Equivalent to a national vocational qualification level 2 in "Using IT", ECDL is sponsored by the EU and managed in the UK by the British Computer Society. The ECDL syllabus consists of seven modules covering the major areas of computer use. Students can take them in any order, and in sessions that are convenient to them. Tests can be taken at any accredited test centre and records of completed modules are kept in a logbook retained by the student. When all have been successfully completed and all tests passed, the student also receives a full computer driving licence.
MerNet is also poised to become a regional learning hub under the Government's University for Industry initiative, aimed at improving individual employability and competitiveness.