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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Digital Literacy Curriculum. To see an answer, click the question.

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Blocking Pop-ups in Internet Explorer can interfere with the display features of the courses and assessments. You can temporarily allow Pop-ups as follows:

  • Open Internet Explorer.
  • On the Tools menu, point to Pop-up Blocker,
  • and then click Turn Off Pop-up Blocker.

If you visit the Digital Literacy Curriculum on a regular basis, you may want to add the Web site to your list of sites that allow Pop-ups. To do so:

  • Open Internet Explorer.
  • On the Tools menu, point to Pop-up Blocker,
  • and then click Pop-up Blocker Settings.
  • In the Address of Web site to allow box, type the
  • address, and then click Add.
  • Click Close to close Pop-up Blocker Settings.
The Digital Literacy Curriculum is for anyone with basic reading skills who wants to learn the fundamentals of computer technology. The curriculum is written at a reading level similar to that of most newspapers around the world. Learners who complete the curriculum will understand basic computing concepts and skills.
E-learning combines text, simulations, animations, games, and hands-on activities to provide a rich learning experience for different types of learners. To learn more about Microsoft's award-winning e-learning format and how to use the Digital Literacy e-learning courses, launch or download a course and view the demonstration.

Launching an e-learning course connects you to a hosted online experience. This means that you take the course while connected to the Internet. Launching an e-learning course works well if you have a reliable broadband connection.

Downloading an e-learning course enables you to run it on your computer with no connection to the Internet after you complete the download. This is the best option if you have a dial-up or less reliable connection. To download a course, you need a reliable 56K dial-up connection or a broadband connection.

You may want to download the Microsoft Word version of a course if:

  • You have minimal access to a computer.
  • You are an instructor in a learning center and need to print or customize the curriculum for your students.
  • You have a reading disability.

If you are an instructor in a learning center, you may make changes to this version of the curriculum for use within your learning center, but you may not redistribute the modified version outside of your learning center. If you have a disability, you may adapt the Microsoft Word version to meet your needs.

The assessments are a tool to help you verify that you have mastered the material in each Digital Literacy course. There is one assessment for each course. The assessments consist of 30 multiple-choice questions that cover the key points of each course's topics. After you complete an assessment, you will receive a personalized Learning Plan that outlines the topics you have mastered and the topics you might want to study further.
When you complete an assessment, you generate a Learning Plan that outlines the topics you might want to study further. The Learning Plan refers to specific lessons within the e-learning course. The Learning Plan from the Certificate Test refers to lessons from all five of the Digital Literacy courses.
The Certificate Test is similar to the assessments. It consists of 30 multiple-choice questions that cover key points from all five Digital Literacy courses. If you receive a passing score on the Certificate Test, you can fill out and print a Digital Literacy Certificate. The certificate validates skills learned for each student; it does not provide a formal proof of skills for others.
You can take the Certificate Test whenever you feel ready for it. If you are completely new to computing, you will have more success completing the e-learning courses and assessments prior to taking the Certificate Test. If you have more experience, you may choose to take the course assessments first to determine whether you are ready for the Certificate Test. If you are confident about your Digital Literacy skills, you may take the Certificate Test right away. You can take the Certificate Test as many times as you want.
Candidates who receive a passing score on the Digital Literacy Certificate Test can print out a personalized Digital Literacy Certificate. The Digital Literacy Certificate is considered a "low-stakes" rather than a "high-stakes" certification because there is no proctor to verify the identity of candidates and no testing center to ensure that candidates rely only on their own knowledge to complete the test. The certificate validates skills learned for each student; it does not provide a formal proof of skills for others.

If you are using the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Windows Vista, you will find Digital Literacy version 2 has the most to offer you. While it still teaches ICT skills in the generic sense, it demonstrates concepts by using screen shots and examples from the products and technologies in the 2007 Office system and Windows Vista.

If you are a bit shy about working with a computer and are using a computer for the very first time, the Microsoft Digital Literacy Basic Curriculum (available in English only at this time) helps teach you how to begin to use a computer.

If you have mastered the essential computing skills in the Digital Literacy Standard Curriculum, the Advanced curriculum provides courses that explore core concepts in more depth.

Since Digital Literacy simulates software user environments, pedagogically, it does not require a specific application software or operating system to be installed for use. However, the practice exercises in the instructor’s manual assume that students have access to Office and Windows. Instructors report that greater retention of ICT concepts occurs when students are able to reinforce learning with hands-on practice.

The only software required to run either version of Digital Literacy is a minimum of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, which is available to users of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and later. The curriculum also works with Microsoft Internet Explorer 7. If you plan to use the Microsoft Word download versions of the curriculum, you must have Microsoft Word 2002 or later installed.

If you are new to computing, you should start with Computer Basics. After you complete this course, you can take the other courses in any order. If you have already mastered the topics covered in Computer Basics, you are ready to take any of the other courses in any order you like.
The curriculum is designed for classroom use or for self-paced individual study. The most common use is individual study in a lab environment with an instructor available to answer questions or to get you started. In a classroom environment, the curriculum may be used to supplement additional classroom courseware, or it may be used on its own, depending on the choices made by your instructor or learning center.
When you download an e-learning course to your computer, a shortcut link to the course is added to your computer desktop and to the Windows Start menu. On the Start menu, you will see a new folder called Microsoft Learning. You'll find links to any courses you download inside that folder. To launch a course, click the course title and follow the instructions on your screen.
The name input field for the Digital Literacy Certificate can only accept a limited number of characters. If your name is too long for the field, it will not show correctly on the certificate. To prevent this, there is a second name field on the form. Put your first name in the first field, and your second name in the second field, and this should correct the problem. If you still have problems, your instructor may have an offline version of the form which he or she can help you personalize and print.
The Assessment Results page provides you with a number (and a percentage) of items you got correct on the assessment. Only the Digital Literacy test provides a pass/fail notification. As a general guideline, 80% may be considered as a passing score, although your instructor may use different guidelines. The assessment results are for your personal skills development, and are not to be used as an indicator of your accomplishment for others. Only use the assessment to discover which topics you have mastered, and which topics you may want to review further.
Unfortunately, once you close the Assessment Results page, it is gone. Microsoft does not record the results of the assessments taken. To keep a record of the Assessment Results page, you must print the page prior to closing it. If you do close the page, you must retake the assessment to generate a new Assessment Results page.
The topics covered in the Digital Literacy Curriculum (the Objective Domain) were carefully designed with input from educators, instructional designers, trainers, and education specialists worldwide. These experts received a list of potential topics and rated the importance and effectiveness of each topic for mastering computer literacy skills. Course designers also consulted key national and international standards bodies, as well as popular curricula used in learning centers.
Currently, the original version of the Digital Literacy Curriculum is available in English, Thai, Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Polish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, UK English, Portuguese, Greek, Hindi, and Irish. Additional languages are in development. As other languages become available, they will be featured on the Digital Literacy home page.
Microsoft is currently evaluating plans and developing curriculum for new language availability for version 2. As new languages become available, they will be featured on the Digital Literacy home page.
Instructors of learning center courses can find additional teaching resources, including an instructor's manual, classroom setup guide, and other support materials, on the Digital Literacy Instructor Resource page. Go to the Digital Literacy Instructor Resources page

The Digital Literacy Curriculum requires the following minimum system configuration:


  • Personal computer with a 233–megahertz (MHz) or higher processor
  • 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM or more recommended
  • 2 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space
  • Non-ISA network adapter, 10/100 megabits per second (Mbps)
  • 4-MB video adapter
  • Super VGA (SVGA) monitor (17 inch)
  • Keyboard and pointing device (such as a mouse)
  • Sound card with amplified speakers or headphones

Hardware (for installations of Windows Vista Home Basic)

  • Personal computer with a 1 gigahertz (GHz) or higher processor
  • 512 megabytes (MB) of system memory
  • 20 gigabytes (GB) hard drive with 15 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Audio output
  • Internet access (fees may apply)
  • Super VGA (SVGA) monitor (17 inch)
  • Keyboard and pointing device (such as a mouse)
  • Sound card with amplified speakers or headphones


  • Windows® XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later, with the latest hotfixes and software updates
  • Note: If the Windows XP CD does not have SP2 on it, you can download SP2 from the Windows Update site after you have installed Windows XP. Hotfixes and software updates can also be downloaded from the Windows Update site.
  • Go to Windows Update

Internet Connection

  • A continuous broadband connection is required for the online e-learning courses.
  • A reliable 56K or better dial-up connection or a broadband connection is required for downloading the offline versions of the e-learning courses. No connection is required to play these on your computer.
  • A reliable 56K or better dial-up connection or broadband connection is required for the assessments and the Certificate Test. (The assessments and the Certificate Test are not available in an offline format.)

Pop-Up Blockers

  • The e-learning courses and assessments launch in a new window, so you must disable any pop-up blockers you have running in order to view the courses and assessments.