The project was initiated by the Department SCHU::COM - ‘Schule und Computer’ (School and Computer) of the City of Winterthur. This Department recognises that the competence levels of teachers in the use of computers and communication technology is a key component of successful integration of ICT into the classroom.
This is reflected in the mission of the Department SCHU::COM, as its goal is to support teachers in using computers and communication devices. Through training, teachers are empowered to work with computers and are encouraged to integrate the existing ICT infrastructure into their teaching. The ECDL programme is one of the means through which the Department seeks to achieve its mission.
Why ECDL Was Chosen
The main goal of implementing ECDL was to enable all teachers already working in Winterthur to reach the same level as the new university graduates, i.e. the newly trained teachers. Other competing certifications were considered - IC3 and SIZ (a Swiss informatics certificate). After an evaluation, the ECDL standard was chosen as it is the educational requirement of the University of Education in Zürich. In addition, the MSW-Winterthur (a training centre of the City of Winterthur) is an ECDL Accredited Test Centre, which meant that synergies could be used, and costs saved.
Project Delivery Details
The project started in summer 2006, and is planned to run until 2016. The project is being run in three phases:
- Phase 1: Primary school teachers: 2006 - 2010
- Phase 2: Kindergarten teachers: 2010 - 2013
- Phase 3: Secondary school teachers: estimated 2013 - 2016
The teachers in the City of Winterthur undergo training in the following ECDL modules:
- Using the Computer and Managing Files,
- Word Processing,
- Web Browsing and Communication,
as part of the ECDL Start Programme. This raises the ICT skills of the teachers to the competence level of graduates from Swiss Universities of Education.
MSW-Winterthur was accredited as an ECDL Accredited Test Centre in 2001. It is governed by the Department of Education and Sport, and is responsible for the content and the organisation of the courses as well as the management of the exams. Teachers register on the SCHU::COM website for the courses. There are various options for courses and studying. For example, there are courses which are held one evening per week for six weeks, or holiday courses which take three days. The coached courses have two different entry levels: beginners and advanced. In phase 1 of the project, workshops were offered as well. The material can also be studied on an individual basis. No matter which course type the teachers choose, they all receive an e-Learning CD and printed courseware. As teachers will be offered a diagnostic test for each module, they also have the opportunity to assess their training needs more effectively. The goal is to pass the module tests, regardless of the selected form of learning.
MSW-Winterthur must provide a flexible and qualified team of course instructors for the coached courses. The minimum requirement for these instructors is an ECDL Accredited tester certificate.
Project Outcome and Impact
Everyday professional life has become unimaginable without computers and communication devices. This is no different in schools. For teachers to become competent in the use of technology to prepare their lessons, collaborate with other teachers, and with the school authorities, it is important for them to possess the corresponding skills. Through the ECDL certification, a skills gap is filled. The success of the project is already clearly visible in the schools.
Many of the candidates have reported benefits in having participated in the ECDL training programme. Even though the course initially met with some resistance from some of the participating teachers, feedback has often shown that these teachers have now found a new approach to computers and see the possibility of a certification as an opportunity.
So far, 335 primary school teachers and 18 kindergarten teachers have received the digital literacy level ECDL Start certificate. By the end of the project – taking into account an annual fluctuation of employed teachers of about 10% – approximately another 120 kindergarten teachers, 50 primary school teachers and 250 secondary school teachers will be certified.
The costs for the courses, courseware, ECDL Skills Cards2, as well as the diagnostic and certification tests were paid for by the City of Winterthur. The teachers only need to invest their time into the course. From 2006 to 2011, more than Fr. 650,000 ( 540,000 approx.) has been spent on external costs (carrying out courses and training material).