We have been running the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification programme (or MOS for short) for seven years. Open to everyone in the University, it offers the opportunity to gain a recognised certification to validate skills in using the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Participants use a variety of materials to suit their learning styles including targeted, self-led learning resources or attending training courses as preparation to sit practical certification exams. The certifications have proven benefits in increasing student employability, but there is a broader impact for both staff and students. By engaging with the exam preparation resources, there is the potential for transferable skills to work flows using these applications and hence improve productivity. So, clear benefits to sitting these exams, but also, an activity entirely dependent on my computer classroom to deliver and thus was one of the first casualties of the move off-site.
However, in true “MOS is dead. Long live MOS” style, we have a veritable success on our hands. Thanks to the efforts by the exam authority tech boffins to develop a remote delivery system, MOS exams have been able to resume to the scattered locations across the globe with the added benefit of allowing a wider range of exams to be delivered. The circumstances of lockdown have given added impetus to ‘do something useful’ and MOS certifications have certainly been seen as fulfilling that criteria. We’ve had a 5-fold increase in exam bookings and the passes indicate more than just a totting up of scores. We’ve had those attaining Expert level qualifications feedback that their qualification had immediate benefits: “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I recently started freelancing as a designer on Upwork (from graphic illustrations to designing powerpoints / formatting word documents / etc.). Having the qualifications give clients the assurance that I have the necessary proficiency to fulfil their needs” while others have said participating in MOS helped them to “produce more consistent work on a day-to-day basis”. Employability. Productivity. This is the calibre of feedback that we are accustomed to receiving from those that have engaged with the MOS programme, so it is not in itself a revelation. But it is hugely reassuring that the move to remote delivery is still providing where it counts.
And today it counts more than ever as our programme has produced two Champions. The exam results of 2nd year student Andrea Wang and postgraduate Shonaugh Wright earned them a place, from the thousands of exams sat nationwide this year, to compete in the UK National MOS Championships held today, 25 June. Usually a live event, this too has its virtual doppelganger, the winner of which will have a place to compete in the World MOS Championships in Florida in 2021.