University assesses computer competency

Jennifer Schrauth

St. Edward’s University has been reassessing its computer competency requirements and the way that computer skills are taught.

Every student at the university is required to complete a set of computer competencies before graduation. The purpose of the requirement is to ensure students are capable of basic computer use that accompanies most classroom environments, according to the Instructional Technology Web page.

Based on six modules, the competencies cover the topics of basic computer use, internet communications, library research, word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentations.

But this year, one of the modules, basic library research, was removed from the requirements.

Joana Trimble, the computer competencies and training manager, said the decision to drop the module from the criteria was because the librarians at the university instruct students early in their academic careers, in courses like Rhetoric and Composition. The need to teach and test students on this information became obsolete, Trimble said.

Although much of the competencies are still based upon older and outdated software like Windows XP, updates are not expected in the near future, Trimble said.

“But as soon as the university adopts a new program, we will be prepared,” she said.

For students who have increased their working knowledge of computer programs, the IT department offers free computer training workshops, covering topics ranging from CSS to Adobe Photoshop, to help them improve their personal skills and professional abilities. The workshops are available to students, faculty, and staff every month and at various times.

Megan Garza, the IT training coordinator, said the goal of the workshops is to prepare students with the relevant technological knowledge for graduate school. The IT department works to gear the workshops toward the best practices and popular topics in technology, she said.

“Students that attend the workshops take the extra initiative to learn what’s going on in the technology world,” Garza said.

Computer education is crucial for students to acquire, Trimble said.

“Students don’t necessarily always have the skills that they need to succeed in the classroom,” she said. “We’re really trying to move toward general computer literacy and keep the education we offer up-to-date.”

In addition to the workshops, IT also offers one-on-one instruction, faculty requests and certification through the Circuit Track, Garza said. The Circuit Track allows students to receive certification in office essentials, Web essentials, or digital graphics essentials, by attending five to eight required workshops. At the end of the series, participants submit track projects to be graded, and if these projects demonstrate proficiency in the area, certificates are awarded.

“The IT Circuit keeps people coming back because people are interested in getting a certificate,” said Trimble.

All workshops are held in Moody Hall 309. The schedule for this month’s workshops can be found at http://www.frc.stedwards.edu/workshop/index.cfm.