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Q: I am a local business owner and am amazed at how little high school graduates know about the basic uses of a computer. They can play video games and surf the Internet, but their knowledge of business applications is greatly lacking. Why is this?

A: What a great question! Digital literacy is near and dear to my heart, and what better time to provide students with the tools they need for their futures than to secure this education while in high school? Unless students register for computer classes, they never get the education they need to perform well using computers in college or on a job after high school.

Most computer classes in high schools throughout Indiana are electives Some school systems require students to take a basic computer applications course (such as the basics of Word and Excel), but most schools do not.

Schools must first meet the requirements of Indiana's Department of Education before local district requirements can be implemented. If a school has only six periods in its day, for instance, it is difficult to meet the DOE requirements, much less add district requirements and electives.

Schools could offer a digital literacy certification course called the IC3, which stands for the Internet and Computing Core Certification. The IC3 program is the world's first validated, standards-based training and certification program for basic computing and Internet knowledge and skills.

Successful completion of the IC3 ensures that students have the knowledge and skills required for basic use of computer hardware, software, networks and the Internet. IC3 is the key to advancement in education, employment or other certification programs.

The IC3 certification is awarded by Certiport, based in Utah. Certiport is a leading provider of global certification programs and services. There are three tests to the IC3. The tests and their validation topics are:

1. Computing fundamentals (computer hardware, software and operating systems).

2. Key applications (common program functions in word processing, spreadsheets and presentation programs).

3. Living online (networking, e-mail, Internet usage and the impact of computers on society).

Several states have adopted the IC3 as their digital literacy standard. If you are interested in this concept for your school corporation, talk to your school corporation's superintendent and your school board to establish or change the digital literacy requirement for high school graduation.

For more information on the IC3, visit Certiport's Web site at http://info.certiport.com/yourPersonalPath/ic3Certification/

Opinions are solely the writer's. April Miller Cripliver of Chesterton holds a doctorate in management information systems and is a computer hardware and software consultant. E-mail your computer questions to nwitimes@cripliver.com, and specify your operating system and other pertinent PC information.

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