Copy and Paste Customer Service.

For a long time I’ve seen lessons where staff have used the internet.  Teachers are getting better at finding ways of using the internet, but I still see lots of instances of straight copy and pasting.  Is this a good idea?

Over the last week I’ve been patronised by two different companies who have responded to my enquiry by email.  I don’t think either company bothered to read my email properly, just scanned it for key words and then pasted a response.

I did a lot of Christmas shopping on the Internet at Boots, and am a sucker for their loyalty card points.  I’ve been to their ‘Advantage Card’ machines several times and points still haven’t been added to my account.  The first time I contacted them, the email I received had a few lines about my pending points and then a huge copy and pasted instruction set telling me visit a machine to collect my points.  Hadn’t they read the email I sent?  Perhaps it was just me so I tried my card again and contacted them once more.  I explained that I had tried my card several times in an Advantage machine and my points had not been added to my account.  This is the email I received:
Thank you for contacting us about collecting your pending points from our Advantage Card extra offers kiosks.

To collect your points you’ll need to insert your card into the Advantage Card extra offers kiosk in our larger stores, it looks similar to a cash machine. First it will find your name, and display that on the screen, then it will tell you how many points you have to spend, and they’ll be downloaded onto your card for you.

You’ll also have the opportunity to look through lots of exciting and exclusive offers simply by touching the screen.

How helpful!  Copy and paste customer service at its best.

Carbonite backup

I’ve a problem in Windows 7.  Carbonite scans the Firefox profiles folder for changes and stops you installing add-ons for Firefox.  Disabling Carbonite or excluding the folder from backups stopped the issue so the problem was clearly with Carbonite.  This is the copy and pasted response I received from them.

Hello Rob and thank you for contacting Carbonite Customer Support.

Carbonite has been designed to operate in the background so as not to slow down your PC or interfere Internet connection while you are actively using your computer.

It seems like the issue you are facing is not related with Carbonite, but with your system. We request you to please contact your local computer technician for the further assistance regarding this issues.

Please let us know if you need additional assistance.


Carbonite Customer Support

Perhaps it’s just me.  Perhaps it’s a generational perception?

Teachers – join me on the quest to stop this abuse of copy and paste by teaching our students when it is appropriate to use copy and paste, and when it is not.  And be loud in your complaints when you receive this kind of response from a company – copy and paste customer service = poor customer service!

Completing Warcraft 3 again – why a good computer game is like a good lesson.

Whilst tidying out my cupboards I found a copy of Warcraft 3 (and accompanying expansion the Frozen Throne).  Most games of this era had not survived my clearing culls, but this game has a soft spot in my heart.  Not only was it one of the best games I played with an excellent story line, but I revisited all the places in the game when I played World of Warcraft for four years.

Completing the game again was like taking a trip down memory lane.  I revisited all the places I had been to in World of Warcraft, many of which held fond memories (in the same way that childhood memories are fond memories). 

So was I prepared to rejoin World of Warcraft after a year of not playing?  Blizzard gave me a free week to entice me back.  Unfortunately as a level 80 character who has completed most of the game, there isn’t much left to do.  Player vs Player action isn’t balanced and isn’t much fun for my hybrid class.  I don’t have the time or inclination to level up my cooking/fishing skills or to go around doing the same kind of things over and over again – too much repetition.
I couldn’t be bothered to level my level 60 and level 70 characters, which would take many times longer than it took to complete Warcraft 3.  Another reason for not completing these tasks is that there is very little story line linking the quests together.  Not like the story arc that runs through the Warcraft3 game.

So what made Warcraft 3 a good game for me?

  • A good story arc to give me a reason to keep playing (it held my interest)
  • A different experience every time you play – not the same one time after time
  • Something that doesn’t take forever to see any progress.

As a teacher I see that these are some of the requirements of a good lesson?  I’m not sure this means I have a future in game design, but perhaps there are still more lessons to be learnt from the computer games industry…

Visiting Beijing – again

A teacher who has the opportunity to visit China is very fortunate.  This was my 3rd visit to China in 18 months which makes me extremely lucky indeed. 

I had applied for TIPD funding for myself and 3 other members of the staff to go on a fact finding visit to Beijing School for the Blind.  I was blown away by the extremely hospitable and generous nature of the staff from our host school who went to great lengths to show us their culture as well as their school. 

Staff from 2 schools

We managed to visit all of the Beijing cultural attractions – the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Beihai Park, the Olympic Village, The Hutongs, Wang Fujin street and so on. 

We also spent a great deal of time in Beijing School for the Blind looking at their lessons, policies and teaching pedagogies.  What amazed me most was the rate of progress over the 12 months since I last visited.  The staff, buildings and teaching were excellent – I’d be more than happy to work there myself.  We also had a a brief tour of two other special schools, both again with dedicated and compassionate staff.

Chinese education is moving forward at a tremendous pace.  Chinese SEN education is moving forward even faster.  At the moment Chinese SEN teachers are learning techniques and strategies from us, but in a few years we could well find that the tables are turned.

If you want to read more about my visit to Beijing School for the Blind click here.