Why should students come to class?

Why should students come to class?

If my students can do the majority of their work with writing and reading online…
If my students can receive all of their assignments online…
If my students can maintain constant contact with their friends, classmates, and teachers online…
If my students can create spaces to come together or work alone online…

What do should we do in the classroom?

One of the biggest takeaways that I have been formulating at the Virtual Schools Symposium is that the hybrid model is not fiction. When students have access outside of class hours (and this is not a given by any means), shouldn’t we be expecting that they be connecting and collaborating during this time?

The more that I work with my new 7th graders (the students who I have only known under the Academy of Discovery Model), the more I realize that productivity is something that comes from having the ability to work at your own pace and schedule. I keep seeing the majority of essays being written at home even though I feel the obligation to give them time in class. I keep seeing my students make more meaning out of the emails and instant messages outside the classroom.

My real question, I guess, is what activity is so well suited to face-to-face contact that it can’t be replicated online? Whatever the answer to that question is, is what I need to be doing in my classroom, every day.

Here are my thoughts on what can’t be replicated online, yet:

  • Debate – In its truest form, debate is a refined series of verbal arguments that require many people talking in rapid succession. Although you can do debate in an elluminate session, the passing of the mic is awkward at best and the visual separation of the competing sides is not possible.
  • Networking – It is why we still come to conferences. Finding great people that you want to work with and that will challenge you is something that is lacking in the online world. A social network does create a sense of community amongst many people, but it the bonds forged are not immediate. They take time and tending. In face-to-face communication, it is easy to see the worthwhile. It is easy to recognize excellence. That is what classroom time can be: the search and recognition for excellence (in writing, in math, in science, etc.)

What are the things that you think are so essential in the classroom that they can’t be outsourced to a virtual space? (Do they still exist? Will they always exist?) I really want to know.

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  1. The classroom is all about interpersonal dynamics. Learning can, and often does, take place in the isolation of one’s study or library carrel or over ones laptop, but there is something about being engaged in discussion, collaboration, and personal interaction that engages not just the brain but the spirit. When I show up to class each day, I’m not really so much interested in gettting my course content across as in spending time with these students, these human beings, posing and answering questions together, getting to know one another, arguing some, laughing some, creating a kind of community which honors quality and makes an attempt to create value. It’s not that I don’t value content area skills, I do. But I think you’ve said it very concisely: “A social network does create a sense of community amongst many people, but it the bonds forged are not immediate. They take time and tending. In face-to-face communication, it is easy to see the worthwhile. It is easy to recognize excellence.”

    I suppose I could offer my course online and forgo the interactions with kids, but why in the world would I want to do that? Some quotient of online interaction is fine, and I can it’s obvious that technology _can_ enhance learning. (I am one of a group of teachers at my school planning next year to explore the use of Moodle to assist in “blended learning.”) But the heart of what matters to me as an educator is not in the information, but in the air between us.

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  3. xoatheteox

    Wow, this blog post really interested me because I feel that having to travel to and from school each day is a waste of our time. I think we should be able to stay at home and learn our lessons from the computer, but what happens if our computer crashes? Or what do we do if we have a question for the teacher? I also agree with you when you said that debate cannot be done online. Debate deffiniltey keeps each class interesting while in school. All in all, I think home-learning is a good idea, but our technology is not developed enough for it yet.

  4. I think that many things can’t be replicated online. One of these things are Debates and Discussions. Without them, you only get ideas and opinions from yourself. You dont get to hear other peoples thoughts and ideas on a subject unless you are talking to them. With online work, you only get the facts but you dont get explainations and reasons why it has to be that way, like in History, you only get facts not people’s opinions which makes it more difficult to understand. Another thing that can cause a problem if you are to switch to just learning on the computer is what if something happens to the computer? Computers aren’t a very reliable source because they can crash or stop working at any second. Also, if you have a question about something your learning about, you cant ask a teacher if you are at home. Without school you wont have very good social skills and wont be that good at talking to people. At school pretty much your whole day has talking in it, whether it be talking to a teacher or gossiping with your friends. THis is a very important skill to have because with jobs and such you need to be able to tell people about your ideas or inventions or they will be worthless. These are some things that you cant do at home on the computer.

  5. darkcow

    I think that there are only 2 things that you can’t do online. One of these is disciplining and the other is getting to have a strong connection with others. If you have an internet relationship then you don’t really meet people. All that you do is visualize what that person looks like by how they write. And I don’t know about you but that seems to be pretty hard to me. Also, there are over one billion internet users everyday, so how do you think that you’ll have very good relationships with anybody? That is all that I have to say. Thank you for reading this.

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  7. mrshappy

    Their are a few things that you can’t get online that you get in a class room.

    One of the things is social interaction with the teacher and kids. The interaction you get with the teachers is you get to ask questions then and there. With class on the internet you ask the questions after the class and wait awhile for answers.

    With the interaction with kids you get to hear their questions that could help you even more with the work. With the class online you can’t hear their questions.

  8. In my opinion, there isn’t much you can not do with the computer. You can communicate, collaborate, research, and be a productive student. Most kids I know already spend a lot of time on the computer playing games or talking to friends. Why not incorperate learning into the time they spend on the computer? Learning on the computer is much more productive than spending eight or nine hours in school. The one thing you don’t get from the computer is social skills. But,learing on the computer would take less time then school, and allow students to spend more time with their friends.

  9. tsoccer20

    This is an excellent blog post and I thought that it is something that may come up in schools with all the new technology coming out every day. It would take less time out of your day to have a school online instead of traveling to school. It would not take up as much time because if a person in your class keeps holding up the teacher, that will not be present in an online classroom. You can never always depend on a computer although like if the internet server is not up or some particular progam is not working it would delay your work. Also I do agree with darkcow that the only bad thing about using the technology for a classroom is that you don’t have a strong connection with others and you may not make as many new friends.

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  12. I really like this question. It makes me think that even though I dislike school because we have to get up early in the morning and things such as that, school is perfect for communicating. When we go to school, we communicate with everyone there whether it is talking about Friday night at the movies with your friends or discussing a math problem with your teacher, you are always talking which always helps your verbal skills. If you are home and do all your homework on the computer, then all your social skills are in the toilet because all the talking you might do is yelling at your computer if it shuts down while you are in the middle or typing your essay. That brings me into my other point; computers aren’t reliable as much as teachers are. When you are talking to your teacher and asking a question, he or she doesn’t just shut down and not work so you don’t have an answer (unless they are very sick). However, computers are very likely to do that. It has happened to me and I have lost all my work. In the future, I’m not sure if a computer or system can be created with all the technology to be as efficient as school, teachers, and books have been. On the other hand, maybe people who love to work with computers will be able to find a system that is equivalent to school, because so far in my eyes, no other educational thing can beat school. I do think schools will also become more efficient because everything is changing now and hopefully our superintendent will be able to change some things around the school system to make it easier for students and teachers lives, and that’s just my opinion.

  13. First off, excellent blog post. You have some very strong ideas and points and you might actually have something to work off of. I kinda agree and disagree with you. Most of a teenagers life is spent on a computer, by IMing friends, research, playing games, going online…There are endless possibliities you can you on the computer. SO, if we already spend a lot of time, why not do something educational with it? But, there are things you cannot get when you are using only the computer/internet to teach.
    You really cant make that teacher/student connection. By just putting up assingment each day and looking at what the student did, you can’t really talk and get to know them or understand them well. Plus, if they have a question, sure they can ’email’ you or whatever, but you might not get that email untill later on in the day. Then when you respond and the child still doesn’t understand, you have to go through that whole process again, having the child be a day behind everyone else because they had a question. I mean sure, every kid would want to do this, thinking ‘Yay! we dont have to go to school!’ but really, it might just be more confusing on the kid. Im still nto sure whether I agree or disagree wiht you just yet…but you might be going somewhere with this…

  14. This is a really good question. What I think is that technology has impacted our lives so much people don’t think that it will change very much. What about in ten to fifteen years when everything has changed. What about schools and the way they work. I think that right now, we do need schools only because not many people own a computer. But, everyone eventually will and then I agree with you 100%. Everyone will probably own a computer in the future since it is becoming so important. What I really think is that our towns should not be paying all this money for the schooling. The taxes should goo down and we should have schools online. We would not have to pay for paper for our schools our electricity. We can do all of our work in our pajamas!We would not even have to go to school. I think that we don’t have to come face to face for schooling anymore and maybe in five years that will change. Students will be able to learn a lot more and not fall asleep in class because they won’t have to wake up early. Students would not have to worry about there appearance and worry about schooling, there education. I think that maybe once a month the class should meet up somewhere like a field trip and base it on what they are learning. Students would be able to learn things better because they can find a lot of information online. People do need to develop skills in talking to people and telling speeches and maybe that can be a project that each student will have to do that once a month when they meet. people’s lives are going to get changed dramatically, they just are not thinking about it yet.

  15. twisters16

    This post is very interesting. It really caught my attention.
    Sometimes I do feel that getting up and going to school everyday is a waste of time when so many things can be done through the computer. It’s an easy way to do alot of things. However, I think that coming together in a classroom has a bigger effect on education than doing things online. There are a few things that can’t really be done over the internet, like full interaction and communication between teacher and student and student and student. It’s important to have a good connection with eachother. I also think that doing things over the computer constantly can take away from the learning process. It’s hard to ask and anwser questions over the internet. In a classroom, other students and the teacher can talk to you and help you through the problem more easily.

  16. This post really dragged me in. The fact of going to school over the internet is an awesome idea. You don’t have to wake up early to catch a bus. You wake up and walk over to your computer. There is still some problems though. What if your computer crashes, or the power goes off, or you lose internet connection. There is a lot of different ways. When you are talking to a teacher over the internet and you have a question. That teacher may have to answer that question like 20 times, because all of the other student didn’t hear the question. When you are all together in one room then everyone hears your question and the teacher only has to answer it once.

  17. nerual1

    I think learning online is a good idea. It’s alot better than having to get up everyday and go to school when your tired, and students can get a different experience from learning online. It would save a lot of time. Also, people might think working online is more fun than sitting in a classroom. Even though this is a really good idea, there are some things that go on in class that can’t be done online. Students and teachers wouldn’t be able to interact with eachother, and they wouldn’t really be a class anymore. Also, there wouldn’t be able to be any class discoussions, which help a lot of students. Teachers and students would have a different realtionship, and some students might not like the idea of that. The class would be dissconnected from eachother. It would also be hard to ask questions and get them answered if you always worked online.

  18. sbug232

    Wow! Great question! I’ve been thinking about it for days now and I think I can finally answer, so here it goes.
    Ok, so someone said that the teacher wouldn’t be able to discipline kids, but if the classes were online there wouldn’t be any discipline problems right? I do agree that working online with people you wouldn’t really get to meet them or get to know their personality. Online, someone can act completely different than they act in real life. Of course someone can fake their personality at school too, but eventually their true colors will shine through.
    An advantage to working online would be that more advanced students in the class wouldn’t always be held up from the less advanced ones. For intance, I am a very advaced math student, but some of the kids in my class don’t understand the math so I am left sitting there board all class while the teacher goes over something I already understand. This problem would not be present with an online class.
    A disadvantage to online classes is if a teacher puts an assignment online and kids don’t understand stand it, they will all have questions on it. So they will fire emails at the teacher and then they ay end up getting incorrect information and do the assignment wrong.
    Well, that is an eighth gradr’s point of view on the subject, I hope it helped you out! -sbug232-

  19. I do not think learning outside of school is a very good idea at all even though I much rather stay home. If we were all to stay home on our computer and do our work, there are so many ways things could wrong. And talking to your teacher face to face about anything, is a hundred times better then communicating through the internet. How will you know the tone of voice they are using? Are they joking with you? What does their facial expression look like? Talking to anybody face to face beats online communication. If we all stayed home how we be able to go out in the world and be normal? Going to school is part of your life and makes you who you are. You meet almost all friends are at school too, and then how would we be able to see them? You also need to consider that just giving them students work online is not something everybody will like. Some kids are not good with computer and much rather perfer paper and pencil. There comes a point when the computer is just too much and you need a break from it. Like right now in Social Studies all we use is the computer and honestly its annoying me, I kind of want to just take notes for once.

  20. emobam22

    This might do as much help as harm. When a student asks a question in class, the teacher answers it and the teacher can see the expression on their face. When ever i dont get something and i tell the teacher i did, just to get on with the lesson, they can see it in my face. But IM-ing and e-mail doesnt show expressions(smileys dont count). So in my opion, the teachers have a more difficult job to do because the kids just say that they understand it, and when a test comes around they are confused, which in the end causes the teacher to have to do extra work with that student.
    Really awesome question, makes ya think!

  21. I think that it is defenitley really important to go to school. The only reason why I feel this way, is because school is vital for a child to get social skills and build confidence. Sure, you can have a conversation on the computer, but the computer will never replace a face to face interaction. No matter what you do, it is inevitable that you will have to communicate with at least one person throughout the day, face to face. The computer does not help kids build the social skills to have an in person conversation. School has also personally helped me build confidence. It actually takes a lot of guts to be able to raise your hand in a classroom full of thirty noisy, rowdy kids and answer a question. Does our society really want people who are unable to hold a conversation in person or who have no self confidence? I don’t think so. Despite all of this, there is definetly something to being able to just sit at your computer and do your work without any distractions. I can’t name a single assignment that I have done well that was done in a classroom setting. A classroom is just a really uncomfortable place to get your work done. Where does that leave me? I have no idea. I defenitley have mixed feelings on the subject. This is a very interesting question to think about. Until then, I guess all children are going to have to sit at little desks in our classrooms and attempt to learn.

  22. footballkid5410

    I think going to school is really important. I think that school gives kids personality and has them stand out. When you’re on the computer, it’s harder to show that personality. Kids cannot interact as well with their classmates if they’re limited to typing out words and using smileys. Face-to-face is a way of improvinghow you socialize with other classmates. On the other hand, working on computers at home is a much more comfortable setting, and there is way less pressure. Many kids are uncomfortable with the school setting and they might have trouble doing speeches in the front of the class. Online they have nothing to worry about, and that can in fact help their grade. Students also don’t have to get up at around 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. They can get up later, look at what the teacher wrote on the blog or wiki, and do the assignment. This also would create less problems for the teachers. They don’t have to deal with sleepy kids in the morning, or even tell the students to stop chewing gum or stop listening to their ipod. A comfortable environment is one of the most important things that the students should have. I think that if schools were replaced it would help many people in some ways, and hurt them in others. Personally, I think having computers would be better.

  23. In my opinion there is not much that you cannot do on the computer. You can do homework and send it to your teacher, you can watch videos or listen to podcasts on education, you can talk with other students that live a mile or 50,000 miles away from you, you can even have a live video chat with your teacher or other students. That last thing makes your question hard to answer. Because you can have ‘face-to-face’ contact with your teacher without being ‘face-to-face’ persay. This means that a student can review and assignment with their teacher or recieve extra help without being with them. Also, if a student is sick, they won’t miss school. Students can learn from the comfort of their own home. ALso, students can learn on their own time, and they won’t have such demanding schedules and will be less stressed. Also, bullying would be eliminated because students would not be interacting with people who were mean to them and this would raise their self-esteem and give them higher confidence causing them to do better in school. I think that computers are definitely the answer for the classroom of the future.

  24. rua123

    I do think this is a wonderful idea, but I don’t think many people will agree with it. There will be no interaction other than yourself and the computer. Even with as much work as we do on the computer in our classes we still do other things, we still have discussions as a class and listen to everybody’s opinions and include those into our work. I think that our projects would be very straight forward and there wouldn’t be as much creativity due to the fact not many people are adding there ideas and input into it. I know for myself, I have trouble with math and I have to focus really hard and really pay attention. I think if I was listening to the teacher through the computer, I’d get easily distracted and it would be harder for me to learn it rather than the teacher being with the class in person. I do think this program has it’s high points though, and it really is a great idea.

  25. beachbum41194

    What I think about this idea is that it’s good, but what if a kid doesn’t have a computer. I think that we should still get out of the house and go to school, because who likes to just sit all day in their computer room. However, I think that it’s a good idea if everyone from all over the world had a blog and talked, videoed, or whatever they want to do with eachother. For example, we should still have school, but have at least one period of school, “collaborating time.” or something. Right now in school we are doing a thing like that and now I know how to blog, comment, how to e-mail my classmates, have a video chat, and interact with other students. I think that it’s a wonderful experience but all day??? Sorry to say this but if we only did that then we wouldn’t know any math, science,language arts, or social study skills. That’s my opinion.

  26. I think this is a really great idea because a lot of students don’t like getting up in the morning to go to school. But at the same time I think it would be very hard to teach everything on the computer. One reason is that the teacher wouldn’t know if the student was doing the work or someone else was doing it for them. Another reason is most students remember what they learn from when their teachers are very creative and like to do different things with their students. I think that would be very hard on the computer

  27. spiritceb

    I think that that would be a very good idea. It would make things less money to buy the school, busses, and teachers. But what if the students didnt have a computer or if there internet shut down, they would have no way of knowing what was going on. Also when students learn they learn better from ahnds on activities and they like to come to school to learn wiht kids and accociate with them. i dont think that learning would be as fun and if kids would do the work to their full potential without being in teh same room with the teacher.

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  29. Airhead101

    I think that this is a excellent idea. The state saves money, not paying for the building, electricity, teachers, and other resources. The students should just wake up from their beds open the computer and see their teacher on a web-cam. There really is no contact, face to face. The students, in my opinion, the students learn better face to face than on there own. If a student does not understand something, they should see a teacher face to face and help them. Though, having the computer is a great way to learn and makes it interactive. There are great ways to learn on the computer and it should be done. I do not have a problem with being in a classroom, though I prefer the computer.

  30. mrsmurf99

    that was a awsome idea if we could stay home and not go2 school it would save schools so much money but then agian it might be hard because what if u had a question on how to do something and you just cant do it yourself cause you couldnt find it the teacher could show you on his computor but if were not in school how can he do that? im talking about something that is hard to figure out not a thing that says click her to continue. but then agian if we were at homes the teacher would probly make eaiser stuff so he or she wouldnt have to have 300,000 questions. i think we should have it home not at schools.

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  32. animalgirl12

    I think that this is an awesome post! It really makes me think. Now to answer your question. One of the things that is essential in the classroom that cannot be replicated is the teacher, I mean basically that the teacher is always there and is wiling to answer questions, you can’t always get that online, the teacher may be online but yo don’t know if he/she will get pulled away and forgets to leave a message or log off.

  33. I think that this is an amazing post. To answer the question, I agree with animalgirl12. The teacher (to me) is the most essentail thing in the classroom. If you have a question, the teacher has the most thoughtful, creative, and factful answer. You can ask the teacher online like animalgirl12 said but they might get pulled away and never answer your question. To me it’s best to have a teacher in the classroom.

  34. I think this post made a very good point in that most of the activites we do at school can be done on the internet. However, there are some things that you cannot do as well on the internet. Although there is email and IM, it is still more effective to talk in person. It takes much longer to email back and forth than to just have a conversation. You can also get more out of a conversation when you are actually there because it is easier to understand them and you can tell what they are trying to say more clearly. It is also good to have people with you when you are working because they can help you. You can do this on the the internet, but actually being there can make a big difference. The internet is very useful for some things, but the element of face-to-face conversation is better in the classroom.

  35. firegirl210

    I think that although the online world can give us great advantages, it can also hamper our ability to function without the use of technology. If the power suddenly went out for some reason and couldn’t be re-booted, then we would be hit harder than any of the otehr teams, becasue we use so much technology. I think it is very important to come to class, becasue you’re not learning anything if you don’t come. But students have to be mentally present as well, beacuse if their mind is focused on other things adn tuned out, they may have no idea what is going on during the class. All in all, it is very important for students to come to class.

  36. The idea to have school based online is great and I believe that it will make life a lot easier and convenient for many students. Though it is such a great idea I think that right now would be a little too early to start trying to put this idea into action and expecting all students to start having school online. This is because I don’t think that all students in school right now are exposed to a computer. This would make it really hard for those students to have online classes. There are also some things that can’t be available to the students online. There is just a difference between having a discussion with someone in person in a classroom compared to online over the computer. As we all know, expressions are a lot harder to express over the computer compared to talking to someone in person as well. This might create some mis-understandings. Also, to many students, a big part for school to be fun is friends and being able to see and talk to them. This would not be available when school is based online unless they meet on their own time. Students might also spend too much time on the computer, not getting some fresh air and being exposed to the world outside of their room. There are also many positive things about having school online though. Students can plan out their schedules for school so that they can also spend valuable time with friends and family members. Students might be able to focus more after having the right amount of rest and sleep. It also can help the government since they don’t have to pay for some of the supplies for school which will lower taxes. Not only that, students don’t have to worry about how they look and be able to focus more on school and their education. Overall, I believe that having school online is a super idea but it might be a few steps ahead of our time.

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  38. luap03

    I think this is a good idea that could be useful in the future. It might be a risk but if I had the chose of doing this in school I would definitely take the chance. We could save a lot of money of school supplies. It would be kind of weird to not make any contact with people. I think it would be better if we didn’t use computers for one day. Using the internet gives us many more opportunities to see more stuff like looking at many more pictures and websites. I think using internet would be a good way of learning and teaching.

  39. Wow I never thought that you could actually be at home and use your computer for school work. That’s a good point because we could sell the schools for money and save a lot of money that way. The only problem is not everyone has a computer at school. nice blogs post =).

  40. just

    I think this is a great idea because im no the person who wants to wake up at 7:00 am every morning and walk to school. This is a easyer way of schooling i think because we cant loose our assingments and projects. Also because we could just go online when ever we for schooling as long as we get in the amount of hours we need. But there is some down falls like what if some students dont have a computer at home or there computer crashes. Overall i’d love to just go on the computer for school because basicly thats all we do in school is on the computer typing a paper or working on a project. It’s a great idea!=)

  41. wow… i dont recognize anyone… anyway, i think people should have a choice to go to school. If youre gonna drop out of highschool anyway, whats the point of comming now???? But if youre sane like me..(haha) then you will go to school to become educated, get into a good college, get a good job and have a life that dosent have anything to do with standing by cars all day saying, “welcome to mcdonalds, can i take your order?” like Nebraska graduates.(inside joke)

  42. silverstarx10

    Virtual schools are really awesome because it relieves students of a lot of stress. I think that no matter how great technology can be, some things in real life classrooms just cant be replaced by virtual ones. Some of these things include real life conversations and expressions. A lot people know that talking to someone in real life is a lot easier than talking to someone online. I think that talking to someone online is really hard because you cant hear their voice, you can’t tell if they’re being sarcastic or not, and the most important, you can see their face. Seeing someone’s face when you’re talking to them, makes it easier because then, you really feel like you know who you’re talking to. When you can barely tell something about someone, it’s really hard to talk to them. I think that these things are still like this, and they will remain like this for a while.

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  45. I think that an activity that you have to do face-to-face is interact with others. When your online your talking to a robot. Also whenever you have a project your always going to have solo since there is no one to interact with. Another activity you have to do face-to-face is when you need an explanation in math or another subject, you might be a visual person and need the teacher to draw a picture for you to understand; if there is no one to interact with how are you going to get your explanation.

  46. Well I obviously believe that we should learn the four standard subjects (math, science, language arts, and social studies) along with world language and students should learn how to play an instrument of their choice. I think that it’s important to learn these subjects because you need to know them to be successful in your job, and any language is essential to learn because if you travel to another country then you may one of the few people that speaks English.
    Well I found the second question that you aksed difficult to answer at first, but then I thought back to my previous experiences when I have been on an online tutoring service and have found it very helpful because they use a whiteboard to teach you step by step how to solve math equations. Although I believe that a student would be able to get a decent education without having to leave their house, there are some things that students would not be able to learn. For instance, social interaction with the student’s peers and teachers play an important role in becoming successful in the future. If a student did not go to school then they would not gain the needed social skills needed because they would not meet nearly half of the people that they would meet at school. They would not be able to learn about this because physical and or emotional gestures such as tone of voice, attitude, physical gestures, and laughter would be difficult to transmit via the computer.

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