The Education Way: Tech Answers Looking for Problems

Very funny video, but did you notice he said that his district dropped a macbook on him so that he could support a school-site that runs macs only and he didn’t know what to do with the thing. It’s all meant to be fun and games, but his “tech answer looking for problems” set-up brought up a whole host of memories from my thirteen-years as a public school teacher who at times was the site tech coordinator and sat on endless tech committees. I mean, who drops a foreign OS on a support technician and then says, okay you’re in charge of supporting this school site (plus all of the other sites he’s already supporting)? It’s been my observation that unless you begin with adequate tech support (as in training the tech support to handle the machines and potential volume of support requests), then you’re wasting your money in the initial technology investment. Not too many businesses could get away with that for very long.

The old t-cxr switch room
The old t-cxr switch room

Hell, in a prior life as a Communications Technician for the long gone Pacific Bell phone company, the first step to rolling out new equipment was to send us techs to “school” to learn the ins and outs of the new equipment (“red light ‘broke,’ green light ‘not broke”). Actually, if there was a fault with the old phone company it was that they hired too many of us techs (in 1979) because they were used to having to have an army of technicians to keep the Machine going, whereas in the newer electronic era the fewer hands in the Machine was the better method of tech support. Of course by the time I left in 1995 they’d over-learned the lesson and when I left I was only night-shift t-carrier technician covering all of Orange County (CA) from the 91 freeway in the North to San Clemente in the South, troubleshooting everything from ATM alarms to fiber-optic alarms. Like I said not too many businesses can survive if they fail to take into account support costs (beginning with training the technicians) when they roll out new systems.

TCO (total cost of operation) is a black art, but a frightful percentage of tech roll-outs from my public school teaching days factored in little to no funding for end-user training and somewhere around 5% for tech support. The expectation for teacher or technicians to train themselves is a guaranteed failure and no business expecting success would begin there. You roll it out, you support it and that includes training. Funny video, but not a funny situation. jbb

Sources:
YouTube video: “Creative Ways to Use The MacBook” by WilsonTech1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXFoyOOxmr8 retrieved on 06/07/2009

Image: pacbell01.jpg by Joe Bustillos

One Comment

  1. Deb Quinn

    Professor Bustillos,
    Yes, this is a funny video, but it is exactly what happened at my school this year! Our district hired a support technician for our “MAC” school who only worked with PC’s! He was given the summer to set up new iMac computers in 38 classrooms and a new server. I still don’t know why he stayed. We had problems with technology the entire year, and his response with every problem was “It’s a Mac thing”. I finally gave up and started doing my own support. It wasn’t until around June when he finally came around and was lovin’ his MacBook, and was using it exclusively at home.

    Like

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