Monday, July 27, 2009

Jeff Gordon Can't Change His Own Tires

Okay, Jeff Gordon probably could change his own tires if he had to, but that doesn't really matter in his job. It doesn't matter because that's not what he's paid to do. Jeff Gordon is paid to drive a car faster and better than anyone else on the track, he doesn't have to change the tires. The pit crew on his team changes the tires. To be good at changing tires does not require you to be a good driver. Likewise, to be a good driver does not require you to be able to change the tires on your car. Besides, if Jeff Gordon were to try to change his own tires, he'd lose every race.

In school districts there are technology integration specialists and network administrators. Separating the two jobs is the preferred formula for success because having a good understanding of how to fix network and hardware problems doesn't mean a person will make a good technology integration specialist. Likewise, a good technology integration specialist doesn't necessarily have to be great at fixing network and hardware problems.

So when you're looking to add someone to your school's technology department what are you really looking for; a good driver or a good mechanic? Can you get one person to do both jobs? Perhaps, but too often the person you try to have two jobs cannot do both well for the same reason that Jeff Gordon cannot change his own tires and still win the race. To do both jobs well requires more time than one person has in a given work week. Unfortunately, too often schools try to get someone to change tires and win the race. For proof check out the study mentioned in Scott McLeod's presentation at NECC 2009.