I came to work wondering something. I wondered what the value of tests are. How does the act of taking a test evaluate how well you work or how well you could implement your knowledge? I think about this as someone in my household takes the all important test to become a driver, but we can discuss it at this point. This person understands how to drive and does a good job of basic driving skills. In some ways better than many drivers on the road today. The challenge is learning to deal with the things that are out of the ordinary, like a senior citizen who was slowly crossing the road on the red light and your stuck in the intersection. And the car behind you is honking and your light is now red. I am not sure if they covered that in the driver’s manual. The test provides the basic skill evaluation, but not the value of experience.
Today we put considerable stock in a degree or certification. In the Oracle community we have the Oracle Certification Program. I think it is a great opportunity for people to get validation of the knowledge that they have acquired, much like an exam in school. The missing component is the practical aspect. I think that hands-on real experience is the logical next step. This is where you have your hands deep in your hard drive and you worry about I/O in your sleep. This is the hands-on DBA who does more than back ups and the very occasional recovery. These are the people who use the database. So what does testing mean then?
The IOUG has often discussed whether or not to offer certification to our members. We have always said that the cost versus the benefit did not justify it. Or that Oracle has OCP; so why do we need to add a competing offering. Is OCP perfect? No. Would a certification from the IOUG be meaningful? These are the constant questions we ask in the Board and at this point we will not be offering another Oracle database/middleware/BI certification program.
As I said testing is great. With a test you have proven that you learned how to “correctly” operate and manage a database….of course we are talking OCP….or is that OCD….I digress. How good is a DBA that has never worked a day, but has certification? Look at tests as a start. Look at tests like a yardstick to measure how well you have acquired the information. Then take the information and turn it into knowledge but do not depend on your testing success.
So take your tests today, but look to the future when you can take these building blocks and use them together to solve challenges that will be new to you each day. A great man named Carl Dudley, a professor in the UK, told me that children who go to grade school are taught what to learn and that those in College and University are taught how to learn.