With IT technology constantly growing in the work place, any way that students can demonstrate their IT skills to give them that edge over others, whether it be for their first job after college or go onto university, is something more and more students think about.
Most people can say that they know how to use Microsoft products, and they probably do to a certain level. However is this really enough? How can students be measured and have a fair idea of what they need to do to progress to higher levels?
Alan Stevens sawtry

Sawtry Community College were aware that the normal ICT curriculum and courses within it were not challenging the students to their full potential. Students here wanted to go further with their IT skills and Alan Stevens, Associate Principal, was keen for them to have the recognition of doing so.

Recently we asked Alan his views on Microsoft Office Specialist and the importance to it has to his students after his school became recognised as a Prodigy Learning Centre Of Excellence.

Why did you decide to offer Microsoft Office Specialist?

‘’When we got involved with Microsoft, right at the beginning, as part of the ‘Anytime Anywhere’ Learning scheme we were very conscious of needing to accredit our student’s IT skills. Their diet of the normal ICT curriculum and other courses within it weren’t really challenging the students enough. They felt they wanted to go further with their IT skills and I was keen for them to get the recognition. If they are going to be world class with their IT skills they should be accredited to worldwide standards.’’

What do you like most about Microsoft Office Specialist?

‘’I love the way it can enrich and enhance what students are doing, not just in their ICT lessons, but in the curriculum generally, where they are showing fantastic IT skills and applying it. It is great to see that application and recognition of I.T. skills.’’

Why do you think Microsoft Office Specialist is important?

‘’The important part of this programme is accreditation. I have had so many students come in and say I’m good at Word, I’m good at PowerPoint. I say how do you know? The MOS accreditation gives a way of measuring that and offers an opportunity to progress on to different levels. What we want to do is give people the confidence to say I’ve got these IT skills and now I can apply them to gain further knowledge in Geography, History and Science. Therefore the IT skills and qualifications are an integral part for every learner. The academic and vocational divide doesn’t apply to IT skills because every learner has to develop a whole range of IT skills at different levels.’’

Does Microsoft Office Specialist attract students?

‘’There was certainly a real buzz when we announced we were partnering with Microsoft here at the college. Listening to the students they really enjoy having this facility here. The students enjoy it, the parents see the success and then want to have a go themselves. It’s become part of our overall I.T. package we would certainly be a lot weaker without this offering. I think it does have a big impact and we are very keen to build on this success.’’

This story can be found as a case study posted up on the Microsoft Education site – Resources including information from Pam Kitchen, Microsoft Certified Trainer.