VerizonWireless.com is no Amazon.com

Yesterday, I decided to replace my out-of-contract and not-so-trusty Treo 700p. AT&T's network doesn't include Ada. That dashed my longing to have an iPhone fling. I'd love to boogie with a Blackberry. ONU is a Microsoft Exchange shop. Mail/contact/calendar sync over the air is essential. So Blackberry is off the table. Sorting through Verizonwireless' offerings of Exchange compatible phones, I decided to purchase a Samsung Saga.

So I headed to VerizonWireless.com to order the phone. That's when the fun started. I took a pass through the ordering process. The options made no sense. The detail available provided no clarification. I bailed without making a purchase.

Fortified by lunch and a beer, I tried again. This time I rounded up an IM buddy, a "VerizonWireless online pre-sales specialist" to assist me. Here's how that process unfolded:

Please wait for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience!

A Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with MJ

MJ: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today?
You: I currently have the unlimited data plan. what is the difference between the unlimited data plan and the less expensive email/web data plan?

MJ: The only difference is that the $44.99 package gives you access to corporate emailing, they both give you unlimited emailing and unlimited web as well.
You: What is 'corporate emailing'?

MJ: It is emailing for corporations, that use a special emailing system
You: hmm ... I configure the phone to connect with the exchange server. Is that a 'special emailing system'?

MJ: What is the exact name?
You: The exact name of what?

MJ: Ok the server that you use for emailing?
You: Microsoft Exchange Server

MJ: Please hold on while I check that information.
MJ: Is it a Pop 3 account?
You: No ... it is a Microsoft Exchange Server account ... when configuring the account, one selects Microsoft Exchange from the list of account types ...
MJ: Ok great, then the $29.99 package will not work for you. The Exchange server is counted as a corporate emailing account.
You: thank you

MJ: Are you looking to upgrade today?
You: yes
MJ: Are you ready to go ahead and place your order today?
You: yes
MJ: Excellent! To upgrade your equipment you will need to sign in to your "My Verizon" and click on "My Services". You will then click on "Upgrade Now" under the picture of your phone.

You: so ... even thought I already have an unlimited data plan i must still select it when ordering the phone?
MJ: Correct the new one you select will void out the one that you have now.

MJ: Are you logged into your account at this time?
You: yes
MJ: Excellent, have you begun the upgrade process today?
You: yes
MJ: Excellent, where are you in the process?
You: in the cart

You: fed ex overnight will have it to me tomorrow (friday)?
MJ: That is correct, as long as you purchase by 3:30.
You: 3:30? so i still have time?
MJ: That is correct, as long as it is not passed 3:30 in your time zone.

You: can you offer me a promo code to cover the overnight shipping fee?
MJ: Unfortunately we do not have any promotional codes at this time, and haven't for a long time.
You: ah ... the promo code is on the front page of the web site ;-)

MJ: There is a code?
You: yep ... on the verizonwireless home page

MJ: You will need to have selected it when you began the process today?
You: the code? no, gave a code to enter in the promo code box
MJ: I'm sorry the last statement was meant for the messaging did you select this when you went through he upgrade process?
You: no ... i didn't see it as an option
MJ: Does your current calling plan include unlimited messaging?
You: yes
MJ: Awesome, then your fine it will still be there for you!
You: thx

You: so hit submit order?
MJ: That is correct!

You: done. thx for your assist
MJ: Are there any other questions that I can help you with today?
MJ: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day!
Your chat session has been ended by your Verizon Wireless online agent.

Compared to Amazon.com's highly efficient, info-abundant, super easy, one-click ordering ecosystem, VerizonWireless' ordering process is perhaps the most complicated ordering process I've encountered in some time. Why? Verizon certainly has the resources to make the process informative and user friendly.

Why couldn't I have ordered a new phone with my Treo 700p? Verizon makes lots of money off of the mobile web. Why isn't VerizonWireless leveraging the mobile web to improve the customer experience in a way that makes it easier to remain a VerizonWireless customer? Why indeed!


Saved by Google Reader

Joy! Immediately after blogging about how Blogger's 'edit label' feature deleted my post, I flipped over to Google Reader. To my surprise and delight, GReader had already scraped the deleted post. I have Blogger set to release the full text to the rss feed. Hence, I was able to recover the full text of the deleted post. Thus saved from the bit bucket, my first spew on General Education is republished. What Google taketh away, Google restores. Whew!

The Conceit of General Education

Mention General Education to university or college faculty and watch the reaction. Many will wrinkle their noses.  Some will look puzzled. Others, especially those enmeshed in the day to day delivery of GenEd courses, will exhale an exasperated sigh. Still others may say something to the effect of, "not part of my watch."  Each reaction reflects deep fissures in the gen ed dream. The reactions also reflect differing perspectives on ownership and responsibility. Mostly, reactions to 'general education' reflect deep seated, often unrecognized or unexpressed, assumptions about how a university education 'ought to be.'

Faculty reactions to general education typically reflect 'what I think' or 'how gen ed impacts my department.' Infrequently do faculty view gen ed from the student's perspective.  A distinction between 'general education' and disciplinary studies may make sense to faculty.  Students, in contrast, see an entire program of study; "a list of requirements that stand between me and my degree," if you will.Some requirements make sense. Other requirements, requirements that often fall into the 'gen ed' category, elicit puzzlement ("why do I need a course in ...?). As Bok points out in Our Under Achieving Colleges, students tend to not make the connection between program elements; between gen ed courses and other parts of their program of study. This failure reflects shortcomings in program design and delivery. This disconnect is a lost opportunity.

The conceit of general education, as traditionally practiced and conceptualized is the belief that it is a free-standing part of a student's university or college education.  This belief yields general education curriculum that is separate from, independent of, and possibly competing with developing a disciplinary foundation.  This mind-set fosters development of gen-ed fiefdoms that silo general education learning from the balance of a student's experience and education. The partitioning is evident in "layer cake" or "parallel column" curriculum design models. It is a model that risks reifying disciplinary silos rather than optimizing a student's progress toward cultivating general education objectives.

Adopting Nichols' view of liberal education as the collaboration and integration of general education offers an alternate model that disintermediates the conceit. A collaboration model emphasizes integration rather than separation. A collaboration model encourages forming partnerships among faculty from across a campus directed toward a common purpose.   

Our students should, and deserve to, experience and understand their college program as a unified holistic integrated entity in which the interfaces between general education, core curriculum, and major are seamless and mutually reinforcing. Rope provides a useful, although imperfect, metaphor.  Rope is perceived holistically. It's rope.  Yet, rooe is made of individual yarns. Each yearn runs the full length of the rope and, compared to the rope, has little strength.  Each yarn makes a modest contribution to the strength of the rope. A yarn, working in collaboration with many other yarns throughout the length of the rope, yields synergies in that the resulting rope is stronger than would be expected given the individual yarns.  .

This collaborative model requires helping students build a cognitive framework for understanding their program holistically, of the pieces that make of the program of study, and of their interconnections.  Collaboration should be viewed as extending the duration of a student's program; not confined to a particular temporal sliver. Accomplishing this requires careful curriculum design and cultivating in students the cognitive framework necessary for understanding of the whole and the parts from which it is made. If successful, the contributions of each curriculum component to the totality of the program of study should be apparent to every student in the program. If successful, students will perceive the resulting curriculum as a seamless experience. If successful, the resulting educational experience will be of greater value than can be achieved by partitioning general education from the balance of a student's program.

Blogger Error: Unexpected Delete

OK, so I spent time over the past two days crafting the first of several intended posts on general education. I've been enmeshed in designing a general education program for the past two years and it is time to share insights and gleen wisdom from others. 

That was my intent.  The first post was done. Published. BUT, I dorked one of the labels.  Where delicious expects spaces to separate tags, Blogger expects a comma.  I didn't know that. So, Blogger translated my string of space separated tags into one long meaningless spew.  

So, I tried Blogger's tag edit feature.  Who'd a thunk that 'delete' on the "Label Actions" drop down menu means that the label/tag AND the associated post gets deleted?  Intuitive mapping? Nope. Blogger provides a warning about deleting a draft or a published post via the edit posts window. Did Blogger provide a "Are you sure you want to delete this post?" in this situation Nope!  Does Blogger have an undelete feature? Nope.