Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Write a Blog entry describing the relative advantage of using technology to make the major content areas (language arts, social studies, math, the arts, science) become more engaging, relevant and authentic.

“Teachers and researchers agree that today’s students need and deserve the skills, strategies, and insights to successfully exploit the rapidly changing information and communication technologies that continually emerge in the world” (Larson, p. 121).

Though that quote is aimed toward pre-service teacher training in adolescent and adult literacy, it can be easily applied to instruction in any content area. Technology is changing our view of literacy and offers tools and information to enhance and enrich instruction in academic and fine arts instruction alike. Where the idea of literacy has traditionally centered on decoding text, the advent of current technologies has expanded our view of literacy to include information literacy, visual literacy, and technology literacy. Not only are our students expected to read with understanding, but also use technology to locate information and evaluate its merits. Word processing programs alone have revolutionized the writing process. Ease of editing, availability of spell-checking and thesaurus tools are just a few of the “old school” ways in which technology has changed the way we write. Technology also affords our students tools (often free), like e-mail, blogs and wikis, which can be used for authentic communication. “New digital technologies, if used wisely, are believed to have the potential to expose students to a wide range of academic language; provide scaffolding so that students can comprehend challenging and interesting texts; engage students in text-based simulations that spark their interests and motivate their learning; and provide a wide range of tools for analyzing texts, brainstorming their ideas, organizing their thoughts, writing, peer editing, and publishing their work” (Suhr, Hernandez, Grimes, & Warschauer, 2010, p. 7).

Technology has the potential to enhance and enrich all subject areas, not just language arts. The wealth of information that is available online provides a valuable supplement to the textbooks that typically provide the bulk of curricular content in our classrooms. The availability of primary source documents available online, for example, provide information that is not feasible to publish in social studies textbooks. While textbooks provide time-testing information, they also present only one point of view. Carefully selected online content provides our students to opportunity to evaluate multiple viewpoints, especially valuable in the social sciences. Further, technology enables students to interact with content in ways not possible with static information. “The [technology] laboratory setting should be looked upon as a critical learning area in which sound math and science concepts and principles are brought to life” (Bellamy & Mativo, p. 28). In science instruction, in particular, the integration of technology makes learning opportunities possible that are impractical or impossible otherwise. “Simulations also offer students the opportunity to conduct experiments that cannot be easily carried out in real settings” (Papadouris & Constantinou, p. 531). Allowing computers to take over computational tasks enables students to focus more effectively on underlying concepts and “multiple representational formats, such as images, sounds, animations, and graphs, … are combined to describe more effectively a phenomenon of interest” (Papadouris & Constantinou, p. 531).

The advantages of using technology to make the arts more engaging, relevant and authentic is a topic that is, as a music teacher, is close to my heart. The arts have historically been under-supported in many schools (Choi & Piro) and the wealth of resources available through technology can be a revitalizing force. For example, in the music classroom, there were few opportunities for students too see and hear high-quality, authentic musical performances when DVDs and videotapes were the only resources available. Seeing static images of instruments and hearing audio only, is a poor substitute for seeing and hearing a musical performance and, with the advent of YouTube, quality content can be found to support curricular objectives and supplement purchased curriculum materials. Use of open source composition software, like Noteflight and MuseScore, provides a free alternative to industry standards like Sibelius and Finale ($329 and $350 respectively, for educator version) and provide students the opportunity to produce musical content using modern tools and technologies. In the art classroom, digital photography, graphics software, and online graphics/animation manipulation are just a few of the ways technology provides engaging, authentic means of producing artwork. Further, virtual field trips to the world’s art museums provide learning opportunities not otherwise possible. “Digitally based instruction in the arts, including the use of state-of-the-art technology, supports the advancement of free and creative expression as well as reflection, and is essential” (Choi & Piro, p. 32).

Authentic, dynamic, distinctive, interactive, current, effective, worthwhile, and free, are just a few of the adjectives that can describe technology integration in academic and fine arts content areas. While the hardware and infrastructure is costly, in most classrooms Internet-accessible computers are poised and ready to make use of curriculum-related resources and tools that will enhance and enrich instructional content. “Technology can be a means to access content on any topic, a tool for thinking and creating, a connection to peers and experts, and a window into other cultures. Multimedia content can make the curriculum come alive and allow teachers and students to explore content deeply—or in brief, accessible chunks. State-of-the-art scientific instruments can support students’ understanding of science, technology, engineering and math content—and help them master the critical thinking skills of these disciplines. Online, collaborative projects with peers or experts in other states or countries can expose them to different cultures and perspectives” (Maximizing the Impact, p. 6).

The challenge for educators is to make the good use of those technologies that are available to us.


Bellamy, J., & Mativo, J. (2010). A different tngle for Teaching math. Technology Teacher, 69(7), 26-28. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Choi, H., & Piro, J. (2009). Expanding Arts Education in a Digital Age. Arts Education Policy Review, 110(3), 27-34. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Larson, L. (2008). Electronic reading workshop: Beyond books with new literacies and instructional technologies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(2), 121-131. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Maximizing the impact: The pivotal role of technology is a 21st century education system. (2007). State Education Technology Directors AssocInternational Society for Technology in Education, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from http://www.setda.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=191&name=P21Book_complete.pdf

Papadouris, N., & Constantinou, C. (2009). A methodology for integrating computer-based learning tools in science curricula. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 41(4), 521-538. doi:10.1080/00220270802123946.

Suhr, K., Hernandez, D., Grimes, D., & Warschauer, M. (2010). Laptops and fourth-grade literacy: Assisting the jump over the fourth-grade slump. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(5), Retrieved from ERIC database.


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Many learning institutions block access to social media and social networking within their settings. Provide a rationale for opening up the walled gardens or, if you agree with the importance of learning institutions maintaining a walled garden, then you can take that stance in your Blog entry.

The February, 2010 Pew Report, Social Media and Young Adults, indicates that 73% of online teens use social networking sites and that Facebook is their tool of choice. Further, persons in all demographics are more frequently using mobile devices for non-voice tasks, like Internet access (Smith). Social media is woven into everyday life but determining the positive role it can play in our schools is impacted by concerns for online safety, the perceived educational appropriateness of media use, and the ramifications of filtering practices.

Webopedia defines a walled garden as “a browsing environment that controls the information and Web sites the user is able to access” and goes on to say that “schools are increasingly using the walled garden approach in creating browsing environments in their networks.” Those in education will likely know the walled garden by its other name – filtering. Though the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 requires schools receiving E-rate funding to filter material that is harmful to minors, administrators, teachers, parents, students, and school technology leaders all have their own perspective on that filtering. Administrators look at garden walls with an awareness of students’ educational needs, federally mandated Internet Safety education requirements (Broadband Data Improvement Act), National Education Technology Standards and the myriad ramifications of policy decisions. Teachers look at garden walls with an awareness of what is, and is not, possible for classroom instruction. Parents look at garden walls with an awareness of hopes and dreams for their child’s education and safety. Students look at garden walls with varying degrees of awareness and interest, depending on age and experience. To cap it off, school technology leaders are placed in the unenviable position of balancing the wants and needs of all parties with practical aspects of recommending and implementing policies within the ever-changing landscape of the Internet.

Federal mandates will keep garden walls in place, but questions remain. How high should the walls be and at what point is it appropriate to chip away at them? When we talk of Internet safety and filtering in general, it is unlikely that you will find anyone who would argue against the filtering of blatantly inappropriate content, but the tighter the filtering of disagreeable content, the greater the likelihood that some of the “good stuff” won’t get through. An analogy that is frequently used compares learning to swim with online safety. You can’t learn to swim if you don’t go into the pool, and you can’t learn to be safe online if you don’t have access to online content. A more “locked-down” approach keeps students safer at school, but is less effective in teaching students how to use technologies safely (OSTWG, p. 23). In their Report to Congress just last month, one of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) recommendations was full use of “social media – in the form of wikis, video, podcasts, interactive word processing, online discussion, etc. – to teach regular subjects already taught in pre-K-12 classrooms” (p. 33).

So, are these two ideas – filtering and social media – in conflict? I say, not necessarily. Garden walls are a “given” in schools but Web 2.0 technologies, like those recommended in the OSTWG report and this week’s class readings, can thrive within them. Students can learn to develop and use social networks on Togetherville, specifically designed for children ages 6-10, before moving on to Facebook. Students can use NetTrekker (paid subscription service) to browse pre-screened Web sites for research, before moving on to Google. In fact, social media themselves, through their Terms of Use and site design, are building their own garden walls. Sites like Flickr place age restrictions on users and sites like Edmodo and Voicethread require teachers to be administrators and users to be approved. Blogs and wikis are supervised and content can be approved, edited, or deleted. This combination of federally mandated walls, walls erected by social media applications, and the availability of age-appropriate alternatives to “adult” media, means that Walled Gardens have the potential to accommodate student communication, collaboration, and the learning of social and behavioral norms.

Difficulties arise, however, when garden walls impede learning. Even when school districts have different filters in place for adults and students, content that directly supports the curriculum may not be accessible. So what do you do? You can avoid the wall, negotiate with the wall, or circumvent the wall. If a site is blocked, find another – it may be as good, or better, than your initial choice. Barring the discovery of alternate resources, requests can be made to unblock individual URLs. For sites that remain blocked, teachers can choose not to use that information, or they use a tool like Zotero. With Zotero, teachers can bookmark pages at home then access the page snapshot during instruction. The key here is that the teacher is actively monitoring content for educational significance and appropriateness. If page content is interactive and something in the URL won’t make it past the filter, the final option is to find a way to circumvent the filter. While this is almost always a “bad” thing, there can be exceptions. For example, SafeShareTV generates a new URL for YouTube videos and masks all content except the video itself, allowing you to get the all the “good” and none of the “bad.” The reality of filtering, however, is that people find ways to get out of the garden all the time. Do you want to update your status but Facebook is blocked? Forget trying to get around that wall, just get out your cell phone!

So, is the garden wall a good thing or a bad thing? Do we knock it down, build it up, or simply resign ourselves to the inevitability of its existence? I say we start by taking better advantage of the educational opportunities available within the garden. Engage students in global communication using sheltered forums like ePals and iEarn. Allow students to collaborate within the safety of teacher-created blogs and wikis. Guide student research and the evaluation of information that is found. We can teach students how to maintain privacy and safeguard their online reputation while they investigate all the nooks and crannies of the garden. Further, when we find social media outside the walls that will provide valuable educational opportunities not otherwise possible/feasible, thoughtful consideration must be given to allowing student access. Of the six emerging technologies presented in the 2010 Horizon Report, the two on the “near-term horizon” (within the next 12 months) are cloud computing and collaborative environments. Garden walls need to be flexible enough to allow students to take advantage of rich educational opportunities such as these.

Adjusting the height of garden walls is an ongoing campaign and teachers are at the front lines. Any teacher who has previewed online content has raised the wall. Any teacher who has done a WebQuest, instead of turning students loose to research, has raised the wall. Any teacher who has pressed “freeze” on the LCD projector remote, before showing something to the class, has raised the wall. For all our protection of student vulnerabilities within the school environment, however, garden walls are limited or non-existent outside of school. Scaffolding development of 21st century skills within garden, is the best way we can prepare students to navigate the open spaces of the Internet outside the garden because “the best ‘filter’ is not the one that runs on a device but the “software” that runs in our heads” (OSTWG, p. 32).


Broadband Data Improvement Act, Title II: S.1965 – Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act. Retrieved from: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s1965/show

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2010). 2010 Horizon report: K-12 edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from: http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2010-Horizon-Report-K12.pdf

Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., & Zickuhr, (February, 2010). Social media and young adults. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx

Smith, A. (July, 2010). Mobile access 2010. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/PIP_Mobile_Access_2010.pdf

Youth safety on a living Internet: Report of the online safety and technology working group. Retrieved from: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2010/OSTWG_Final_Report_060410.pdf

Related Reading:
Willard, N. (2010). Cyber secure schools in a Web 2.0 world. Downloaded from: http://csriu.cerizmo.com/items/6623-cyber-secure-schools-in-a-web-2-0-world-individual-faculty ($14).

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The relative advantages chart I created is for K-5 general music. The spreadsheet is embedded on my 541 Web page.

For those searching for the embed code for a non-Google page, this is what I used:

<iframe width=’720′ height=’320′ frameborder=’0′ src=’https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AraAQcsMu2HZdF9BVFZORjQwLUFydzlxN1BnM1JvQmc&hl=en&output=html&widget=true’></iframe&gt;

Width can vary – I used 720 (and adjusted column width in my GoogleDocs spreadsheet) so that it would fit on my Web page and there would be no horizontal scrolling. I liked 300 for height as it gives you plenty to look at without gobbling up lots of Web page space. If you want a border around your embedded document, you can change the number for frameborder. For the URL, you will put in the link you get from your GoogleDocs page – make sure you include the end bit with output=html&widget=true.

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My response to the two essential questions for Module 2 can be accessed by clicking the links in the sidebar, the titles below, or simply scrolling down if you’re on the home page. The presentation that follows was made using Keynote. Slides were exported, audio was edited in GarageBand, then slides and audio were combined in iMovie and uploaded to YouTube. A slide show version of the presentation can be viewed on my EDTECH 541 Web page.

Tech Tools and Integration Concerns

Sustaining Technology Innovation

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Essential Question:
How can innovations, including technology, be sustained in schools?

On the Essential Questions Web page, the topic of sustainability is viewed from the perspective of implementation. The author states that sustainability of technological innovation will depend on the depth of change, maintenance of new practices over time, shift in ownership, ongoing evolution, and emotional response and may not be realized for two or three years (Deubel, 2010). When I considered my answer to this question my first thoughts were not about the people, but rather the tools. Innovative technology in schools is not possible unless you actually have the technology to work with, and when we talk about access to technology, it often comes down to funding. Funding technology acquisition, ongoing maintenance, and upgrades are key to sustainability.

A long-time boon to funding of technology in schools is E-Rate. Education Rate, or E-Rate as it is commonly called, is part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and helps to fund telecommunications and Internet access for “all eligible schools and libraries, particularly those in rural and economically disadvantaged areas” (http://www.fcc.gov/learnnet/).  An approved Technology Plan, that meets the FCC’s five core requirements, plus successful completion of lots of paperwork, will get your school on it’s way to receiving federal funds to support technology.

Another federally-funded program is linked to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT), part of NCLB Title II D, has provided competitive grants specifically for educational technology. In 2009, $269,872,000 was appropriated and that amount was supplemented by $650,000,000 in Recovery Act funds. Regrettably, for 2010, the appropriation was reduced to $100,000,000 and EETT is currently slated for elimination from the 2011 Federal Budget. In theory, however, those technology dollars would now be spread across three non-technology specific programs. [Link to May, 2010 article in THE Journal.] While EETT funding seems to be a thing of the past, Federal funding continues to be available for assistive technology. Funding is available based on IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and funding sources are listed on the Disability.gov Web site. Grants from other funding sources (see links below) are well worth investigating, but schools can’t rely on one-time sources of income to fund ongoing programs. Many school districts will budget based on the life-cycle of hardware, with funds allocated to replace equipment every 2-5 years (University of Rhode Island).

While securing a funding source is often the primary focus, cost-cutting measures can help. Spending less on software – open source software like Open Office, or browser-based applications like GoogleDocs – are no-cost options when stretching those funding dollars. One must consider security, however. Some districts will opt to pay for their own secure server space over shared public storage. Other considerations include:

  • Infrastructure: While many think of start-up costs (hardware, software) there are infrastructure impacts. Got COWS (Computers on Wheels)? That’s great, but you also need a wireless network if all those mobile computing devices are going to connect to the Internet. Will your 50-year-old school building be able to support the increased need for power? How about grounded outlets? Surge protectors?
  • Maintenance/Replacement: Are your 1st graders using Netbooks? How about budgeting for maintenance/replacement costs for the damage that will accidentally occur?
  • Obsolete Equipment: What do you do with all those overhead projectors that nobody is using anymore? Did you take down screens when Interactive White Boards were installed? E-Bay or auction may bring in some dollars.
  • Related Savings: Computers in my district now have the capability to print (LAN) to the Xerox machine. As printers break they are not replaced. Printers going unused are removed. Toner for the copy machine is much cheaper than ink for the printers, so even though technology can cost, it can save money elsewhere.

When you’re telling your school board how much the new technology is going to cost, fiscal benefits as well as educational impact can be considered.

So, now that you’ve got the technology it’s time to talk about staff development and ongoing support. That’s what will make the implementation of technology innovations most effective and long-ranging. However, that will have to be a topic for another day!


Deubel, P. (2010).  Technology integration: Essential questions. Retrieved June 19, 2010, from Computing Technology for Math Excellence Web site: http://www.ct4me.net/technology_integr_2.htm

University of Rhode Island. Solutions to Funding Technology in Schools K-12. Retrieved from: http://www.uri.edu/personal/dfis3368/fundsol.htm

More About Grants and Funding:

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Create a personal statement defending the use of technology in schools.

My Response:
Use – particularly fiscally-sound, effective use – of technology in schools is a frequent topic within the educational community. Thoughtful purchasing decisions will stretch technology dollars, but those decisions are highly scrutinized by school boards, taxpayers, and technology-critics alike. Arguments are often fueled by research findings that are conflicting or offer mixed support for technology’s impact on student learning. Being mindful that “technology effects are difficult to assess in schooling, because technology is generally not a direct cause of change but rather a facilitator or amplifier of various educational practices” (Lesgold, 2003, p. 2), will help to build a balanced view of technology’s positive impact on learning.

Defending the use of technology in schools is, at times, a moot point as the technology is widely used in the majority of our schools already. In the May, 2010 National Center for Education Statistics report, Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009 (Gray, Thomas & Lewis, 2010), survey data indicate that 97% of teachers have computers in their classroom everyday and 54% are able to bring additional computers into their classrooms. Further, 93% of classroom computers and 96% of mobile computers, have Internet access. Though computer technology is already in place in the majority of classrooms, the divide between high- and low-poverty schools remains as it relates to hardware availability, broadband connectivity, and the manner in which technology is used – basic skills vs. productivity/creativity. While many schools have computers available for student use, the debate has moved on to use of emerging technologies. Though dialogue has shifted from computers to interactive whiteboards, student response systems, 1:1 initiatives, and Web2.0 resources, the universal concerns of fiscal responsibility, network security, acceptable use, and the maintaining of student privacy, remain.

Regardless of the quantity or type of technology that is available, it is in the implementation and integration that we will find the value of technology use in school. Whereas the question, “Why use technology in schools?” has often been posed, more and more the question is becoming “How can we best use technology in schools?” In Marzano’s 1998, A Theory-Based Meta-Analysis of Research on Instruction, nine categories of effective instructional strategies emerged. A later publication, Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works, connects those research-proven instructional strategies with examples of classroom technologies that support them. In their introduction (pages 2-3) the authors cite research findings regarding the positive impact of technology use on learning, increased student motivation, and more effective differentiation of instruction (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).

This information parallels much of the rationale presented by Roblyer and Doering (2010) in Table 1.3, Why Use Technology? Summary of Elements Underlying a Rationale, in our class textbook. Roblyer and Doering (2010) cite the positive impact of technology use on student motivation, teachers’ instructional methods, productivity, and Information Age/21st century skill development. While a textbook on technology integration may not present the most objective viewpoint, as the authors are preaching to the choir, research to support the authors’ views is provided. The National Education Technology Plan provides further research to support effective technology use in school and presents a model for 21st century learning powered by technology, with goals and recommendation in five essential areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity” (Atkins, et al., 2010).

There will always be discussions and decisions to be made regarding the best possible use of technology dollars, and educational funding is challenging, at best, in most school districts. Of the various rationales and arguments supporting technology use in schools, one that resonates strongly in me is that technology resources available to children outside of school should be mirrored, as closely as is feasible, by technology resources available to children inside of school. “The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures” (Atkins, et al., p. vi). Accomplishing that will pave the way for effective use of equipment and software. Technology use that is standards-based and research-driven, coupled with impactful staff development and ongoing teacher support, will allow schools to move beyond teacher-centered instruction that is too-often “one size fits all,” to dynamic learning communities that promote lifelong and lifewide learning (Skolverket, 2000).

“Technology can provide teachers with tools, data and means
to engage their students, but “teachers, not technology,
are the key to unlocking student potential.”
Protheroe, 2005


Atkins, D.E., et al. (2010, March) Transforming American Education: Learning Empowered by Technology, Draft:  National Education Technology Plan. Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NETP-2010-final-report.pdf

Gray, L., Thomas, N., & Lewis, L. (2010, May). Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009 (NCES 2010-040). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010040.pdf

Lesgold, A. (2003, October). Determining the effects of technology in complex school environments. In G. Haertel and B. Means (Eds.), Evaluating Educational Technology: Effective Research Designs for Improving Learning. New York: Teachers College Press. Retrieved from https://www.ewi-ssl.pitt.edu/psychology/admin/faculty-publications/lesgold_2003.pdf

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Protheroe, Nancy. (2005). Technology and student achievement. Principal- Effective Intervention – Research Report. 85 (2), November/December 2005, 46-48. Retrieved  from http://www.learning.com/resources/NAESP-Technology-and-Student-Achievement.pdf

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H. (2010). Integrating Technology into Teaching (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Skolverket. (2000). Lifelong Learning and Lifewide Learning. The National Board of Education, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved from: http://www.skolverket.se/sb/d/193/url/0068007400740070003a002f002f0077007700770034002e0073006b006f006c007600650072006b00650074002e00730065003a0038003000380030002f00770074007000750062002f00770073002f0073006b006f006c0062006f006b002f0077007000750062006500780074002f0074007200790063006b00730061006b002f0042006c006f0062002f007000640066003600330038002e007000640066003f006b003d003600330038/target/pdf638.pdf%3Fk%3D638

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Welcome to my EDTECH 541 Blog! Content will be added throughout this course. Visitors may subscribe via RSS (top of page) or e-mail notification (form at bottom right). Click on tabs above to visit the various pages within this site and click on the categories on the right to view posts by topic. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Try entering terms in the search bar in the upper right corner of the page.

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