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Robots are a kid’s best friend? Tech and young children – a good match?

We live in a day and age where technology moves into our lives in many places. From voice command devices like Alexa that allow us to organise things on the go to tablets or smartphones which help us deal with most aspects of our lives. Is it really far-fetched that a robot could one day be a teacher, childminder or even a friend?

How strong relationships are formed

Creating a strong connection and relationship appears to be of utmost importance during the early stages of development. If we are neglected and hardly interact with our own kind we develop severe depressions, cognitive inabilities and anti-social behaviours as René Spitz, a student of Sigmund Freud, found in children growing up in children’s homes without someone they had a close relationship with.

Source: Pinterest

A key experiment showing how vital forming a bond is was conducted by Harlow & Zimmerman in 1959. Monkeys were separated from their mothers and put into cages with unreal “surrogate mothers”. One model mother was made out of wire with an attached bottle, while the other was coated with cloth, but without a bottle. The monkeys chose the cloth mother over the wire mother, even though she did not offer food.

The findings paint a clear picture of the importance of physical affection, love and care which led Bowlby to develop his attachment theory, claiming attachment to be an intrinsic need for an emotional bond with one’s carer, extending beyond the need to be fed.

Our relationships with technology

Nowadays, people lead very busy lives working long hours or traveling for work. Often parents struggle to find enough time for their young children and with more and more childcare options many families hardly spend much time together. Instead, increasingly more time is spent with technological gadgets.

Taking a closer look at what children can already do with technology such as learning apps and programs that also schools use, it’s clear that what a tutor or a parent can do could also be done by a tablet or computer. And let’s be honest here: it’s convenient and easy to just let them watch or play something on the smartphone assuming they’re learning something at the same time.

What are children learning with apps?

If you want to learn more about the educational value of such learning apps you can visit https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ to check their reviews. Melissa Callaghan also researches the quality of children’s learning apps and comes to the verdict that many children under the age of five struggle to navigate through and complete tasks without adult support. So, at least for now children still need an adult to guide them and extend the learning that a technical device can offer.

For more detailed information on early literacy apps and their quality for young readers check this article http://littlebookfairy.com/top-literacy-apps/

Could a robot take an adult’s place one day?

Now, we all know films like “A.I.” or “Robot and Frank” where humans and robots try to develop relationships and oftentimes the question of whether this is possible is left open to interpretation. However, in “Robot and Frank” the robot helps Frank and that creates a bond between them. But would it be possible for a young child to form an attachment with a machine?

Let’s look at Singapore where robotic aides to teachers in kindergartens were being trialled back in 2016. Over seven months two humanoid robots, Pepper and Nao, were part of the teaching team at two Singapore preschools.

Findings of robots in a kindergarten

Classroom teachers found that the robots particularly helped shyer children to interact more with their

Robots in classrooms in Singapore featured in FT article

peers and the robots. They also supported their learning as the students were so intrigued by their new friends that they wanted to play with them all the time. The robots would assist with checking the right amount of money was paid in the role-play shop or ask them questions about stories they read. According to their teachers the kindergarteners loved asking the robots questions and involving them in their play.

But there are sceptics in the field of research of robotics. Sherry Turkle, a professor of social psychology at MIT, was quoted by the FT questioning: “Why are we working so hard to set up a relationship that can only be ‘as if’? The robot can never be in an authentic relationship. Why should we normalise what is false and in the realm of [a] pretend relationship from the start?”


Going back to the experiments with the “wire mothers” for the monkeys in Harlow & Zimmerman’s research, we saw that what really mattered wasn’t food but comfort. So maybe, if robots were not as machine-like, but cosier to touch or cuddle a physical and psychological bond could be formed.

There are already robot pets available and they apparently sell well with older people who are looking for a companion.  If kids grew up with such pets in their house, it would be interesting to see how their relationships would develop. So, the question is not whether robots will become our children’s friends in the future, but rather how such friendships will develop and affect all of us and whether they can come close to a bond between humans.

How a CFA and ACCA certificate makes you more employable

Beside the university degree and work experience, employers are more and more interested in extra credentials on a candidate’s CV.

Is it worth investing in additional education to be more employable in the financial industry?

Let’s try to answer this question by reviewing and comparing two of the most popular professional training routes: CFA and ACCA.

1. Scope

The first criterion that will determine your decision is the breadth of the knowledge delivered by these competing programs. In general, ACCA is considered to have a broad scope whereas CFA provides a narrow specialisation.

With CFA, you will learn:

  • Ethical and professional standards
  • Quantitative methods
  • Economics
  • Financial reporting and analysis
  • Corporate finance
  • Equity investments
  • Fixed income securities
  • Derivative instruments
  • Alternative investments
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning.

With ACCA, you will learn:

  • Accounting in business
  • Management accounting
  • Financial accounting
  • Corporate and business law
  • Performance management
  • Taxation
  • Financial reporting
  • Audit and assurance
  • Financial management
  • Strategic business leadership
  • Strategic business reporting
  • Ethics and professional skills.

2. Difficulty

The difficulty of the programs can be assessed based on how many candidates pass the exams successfully. The average pass rate of the Knowledge and Skills ACCA exams in the first quarter of 2018 was 57% and the average pass rate of the Professional Essentials and Options ACCA exams was 41% according to their official data:

Check Results
The average pass rate of CFA exams during the same period is 43% according to the CFA Institute official website:

Check Rates
Based on the pass rate, CFA certainly appears more difficult to pass than ACCA.

The second criterion by which the level of difficulty can be measured is the type of subjects covered by each program. CFA covers far more quantitative subjects than ACCA and the latter has a wider range of subjects that require fewer quantitative skills compared to the CFA subjects. So, if you are not a numbers person, the CFA program will be a far more difficult option for you.

3. Time Required

Both CFA and ACCA allow for distance learning. On average, the total time for completion of the full program is from 3 to 4 years with both CFA and ACCA. However, there are differences in the length of the exams and time required for preparation. CFA exams tend to be longer and they require more time to prepare whereas ACCA exams are generally shorter and require less intensive preparation. An average duration of a CFA exam is 6 hours split across two sessions, and the average duration of an ACCA exam is only 3 hours. So, even though the total time of the program completion is the same, the intensity is very different.

4. Costs

In terms of costs, CFA accreditation is very close to ACCA. The latter will be more affordable if you register for exams early. The fee structure of the CFA program in 2018 is the following:

  • One-time enrolment fee: $450 (~ £346)
  • Level I exam registration fee: $650 – $1,380 (~ £500 – £1,062)
  • Level II exam registration fee: $650 – $1,380 (~ £500 – £1,062)
  • Level III exam registration fee: $650 – $1,380 (~£500 – £1,062)

So, the total cost of CFA is from $2,400 to $4,590 (~ £1,846 – £3,531) depending on how early you register:

Total Cost of CFA
The ACCA cost structure is quite different:

  • Initial registration: £79
  • Knowledge and applied skills exam (9 exams): £100 – £269
  • Essentials exam (3 exams): £125 – £298
  • Options exam (2 exams): £125 – £298

The total cost of ACCA is from £1,604 to £3,990 depending on how early you register:

Total Cost of ACCA

5. Employment Prospects and Benefits

CFA provides, on average, higher salaries than the ACCA qualification. However, the range of salaries varies greatly depending on the profession, country, company, work experience and previous education. On average, a CFA professional can be expected to earn more but there are more employers seeking ACCA professionals. According to Indeed.co.uk, there is the following distribution of salaries and job offers for each qualification:



Salary Number of Job Offers Salary Number of Job Offers
£25,000 9,672 £40,000 571
£35,000 7,545 £50,000 472
£40,000 6,140 £55,000 371
£45,000 4,626 £60,000 282
£55,000 2,476 £70,000 146


So, unless you are looking for a job only in the finance industry, ACCA will provide more opportunities. However, if you are looking for a job in the financial industry, CFA will get you the job faster and with higher pay.


We compared CFA and ACCA programs based on several criteria, namely: Scope, difficulty, time, costs and employment opportunities. In terms of scope, ACCA covers a broader range of both quantitative and qualitative subjects whereas CFA is more specialised and focused on predominantly quantitative subjects. CFA exams tend to be more difficult than ACCA exams given the lower pass rates and more quantitative subjects to be learned.

It takes approximately the same amount of time to finish both programs but you will spend much more time both preparing and at CFA exams than ACCA exams, but the costs of both programs are quite competitive and comparable. In terms of employment opportunities in 2018, CFA will give you a higher paying job in the financial industry but ACCA will open more diverse opportunities in various industries albeit the main focus will be on accounting and audit.

If you are a professional in the financial or investment industry, CFA will most likely make you more employable in 2018, especially if you are based in the United States. If you are an accountant or an auditor, ACCA is the right route for you, especially if you are based in Europe.

Hopefully this analysis by Anne from online writing company 15 Writers helps you with your decision.

Other ways to boost your career Online courses to boost your career

Does getting a degree at university still pay off?


Technology continues to impact the ways in which we lead our lives and it doesn’t stop at education. Over the last years a trend has developed moving learning from happening in one place, like a university, to being accessible online.

Online learning is growing

Many educational institutions have begun to share their lectures on their own platforms for their students, but also on public platforms like Youtube or Coursera. Coursera was established in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, who put their courses online for anyone to take. This enabled them to give more learners access from all over the world. Now the world’s best universities offer courses, which can be short ones to gain certificates or even 3-year courses to get a degree. When you complete a course, you’ll receive a sharable electronic Course Certificate.

So, is paying £ 9,250 per year in England still a good deal?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)  has recently published data that reveals how social backgrounds, choice of university and subject and exam results all impact future earnings. Their research shows that students from the richest households, who did the same subject at the same university, still earn around 10% more than their peers from less affluent backgrounds after 5 years from graduating. They could also show that students graduating at elite universities tend to have higher salaries and that studying medicine, economics or maths will also guarantee higher earnings compared to studying arts or social science subjects. These results show that getting a university degree doesn’t always pay off as it depends on all these factors, if you’ll actually earn the salary you desire. Looking at the cost for studying in England, which for UK and EU students could come up to “an average of at least £22,200  per year“, for international students even more, you’d really have to ask yourself: will this investment be worth it?

The pay gap can be significant

The IFS puts it into perspective: “Graduates from those universities (e.g. Cambridge or Oxford) have average earnings of around £40,000 per year for women and more than £50,000 per year for men five years after graduation. By contrast, graduates from the lowest earning institutions have average earnings below £20,000.” This clearly shows a significant gap and urges us to wonder whether paying off up to £50,000 in dept for getting a first or/and second university degree is really good value. As some graduates don’t find a job right away and struggle to make enough money to afford a good life, let alone pay back their loans. Take Poppy Hunt for example. She graduated in Fine Art from the University of the West of England and works as a customer services assistant for Sainsbury’s 39 hours a week, which makes it hard to build up the experience needed for her desired museum job and earning enough to pay back her student loan. Now, is the traditional model of studying at university still working in our favour?

What does the future hold?

Looking at these facts one really has to ask themselves what the best career options are. You don’t necessarily need a degree to be successful. If you have a passion for something you can monetize it especially in the online world. There are plenty of examples from internet entrepreneurs such as Russell Brunson, who made millions with online marketing, to Vloggers and Bloggers – you name it. The beauty of the internet is that it gives us quick and easy access to so much knowledge. Through platforms like Coursera or Udemy we can watch lectures and tutorials about everything imaginable. Also Virtual College offers over 300 interactive e-learning courses for a variety of professions even in collaboration with employers or universities. Their courses range from £12 – £300, depending on the length and content, and you’d be able to study from home, not having the extra cost of accommodation.  Many experts in their field now create their own courses too and often those will give you a hands-on learning experience just as if you’re working alongside them, being tutored one-to-one. Look at Fernando, CEO of ClickDo Ltd., and his expert courses on how to do SEO (search engine optimization) and digital marketing . And if you’re interested in putting the learned skills into practice you can even become a franchisee – almost like being an apprentice, but better as you’re your own boss and earning a full salary.

What’s the right thing to do?

The digital age has so many opportunities to offer and we should be open to more diverse ways of studying and learning, not just following traditional models. Do your maths and work out which path leads to the best outcome, taking into account the cost, time, predicted salaries and demand of your chosen profession. Weigh your options carefully before committing to anything and do your research to make sure the investment you make for your education will offer you the return you’re looking for. Choose the path that is most likely to get you where you want to be one day within your means.

Why GDPR matters in education

This week the new “General Data Protection Regulation” will come into effect all over the world, not just within the EU, and it will affect many organisations that use any kind of data of a “natural person” (subject). Who uses our data you ask? More entities than you think! What first comes to mind are companies like Amazon (shopping) or Facebook (social media), but really banks, hospitals and schools or universities use sensitive data that people provide about themselves.

Data breaches can happen anywhere

Recently Greenwich University was in the news for having been fined £120,000 by the information commissioner for a serious personal data breach of 19,500 students online. The data included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and in some cases physical and mental health problems. The main issue causing the information to be leaked was that it was placed on a microsite for training purposes that hadn’t been secured and closed down afterwards.

This example clearly shows how easily sensitive data can be compromised even without the awareness of the organisation. Under the new law financial penalties for data breaches like this can cost organisations up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million, whichever is greater. Greenwich University has paid their fine, but especially in the education sector budgets are often very tight and it would consequently mean that the school or university has to cut spending, which could obviously affect their students and staff. So, data protection comes at a high price in the future and many organisations have invested a lot of money in upgrading their online data protection systems.

We’re all in it

However, Barclays Bank have identified the weakest link in online fraud and identity theft as parents on social media, also known as “sharenting”. The bank points out how parents can reveal sensitive information of their children by posting “their place of birth, mother’s maiden name, schools, the names of pets, sports teams they support and photographs”. Such details could be used to access their credit cards or online accounts even later once their children are adults. And as social media giant Facebook has admitted to sharing their users’ data without their consent for political campaigns, data protection is more important than ever with GDPR hopefully improving and raising standards amongst all organisations, but also private people.

Ways forward

Educational institutions therefore not only hold a responsibility to ensure their own data is safe, but also to educate students, families and professionals about ways of protecting their own as well as others’ information in the online world. Google is already ahead of the game with their online course called Be Internet Awesome, which was developed in collaboration with online safety experts such as the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely. It focuses on key lessons like “Be Internet Smart: share with care” or “Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets” to help students navigate the online world safely.

GDPR comes into effect this Friday, but it’ll hopefully have a long-lasting impact on how we all deal with online data in the future, leading to new innovations in this field.

How to get into teaching in the UK?

Are you thinking about starting a career in teaching? Whether you’re only at the beginning of your working life or you already have a career in a different field but want to move into teaching, there are many different options and it can seem overwhelming to work out which route could work best for you. Read this guide and hopefully afterwards you’ll have a plan of action.

  1. Initial teacher training routes: To help you with understanding the different routes and requirements first of all, look at the overview here. This will enable you to already narrow down the paths you could possibly choose, depending on your personal circumstances:

University-led training provided by universities: Great for people with no or very little experience in teaching and who have no financial commitments as you have to pay tuition fees. However, you could get a tax-free bursary of £26k for a non-salaried teacher training course in England. Bursary amounts will vary depending on teaching subject and degree class. You will spend a minimum of 24 weeks in two schools to gain practical teaching experience and the overall length of the course is 3-4 years for undergraduates. If you already have a degree the PGCE course will only take 1 year. At the end you’re awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) and you have the opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification.

Entry requirements: A minimum of two A-levels (or equivalent) is usually required, though this will vary. Students will also need grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

School-led training: School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and School Direct Training Programme (non-salaried): Better for people who prefer a more practical training approach and want to do the training in one year (with only limited teaching experience). Tuition fees apply, but tax-free bursaries of £26k are available for this route, but amounts vary depending on teaching subject and degree class. You still have to attend classes at university so fees apply, but you’re in a school from day one and spend a minimum of 24 weeks spent there. Upon successful completion you’re awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) and given the opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification (PGCE).

Entry requirements: Undergraduate degree, grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

School-led salaried training: School Direct (salaried) and Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship: This route is ideal for people wanting to earn a salary during training, who already have experience in teaching (ideally 3 years). You will be employed by your training school during your year of training. You won’t pay fees to cover the cost of training to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). However, you should enquire with the school whether you would be expected to pay for any academic qualifications, such as PGCE.  You’ll be awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) with an opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification (PGCE).

Entry requirements: Undergraduate degree, grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

Note about fees and salaries: tuition fees vary as well as salaries depending on the region. In general, the annual fees for universities are around £9000 per year, but for international students they can be higher. Loans are available for home and EU students. Salaries can vary from around £22,000 a year (or around £27,000 if you work in inner London).

  1. Specialist training options: Depending on your educational background and qualifications there are a number of additional training options available if you’re an experienced teacher or finishing a PhD:

Teach First: This route is aimed at high-achieving graduates and is run by an education charity, which employs their trainees to teach in schools where more than 50% of pupils are from low-income backgrounds. You will be given six weeks of intensive training before spending two years at a school (chosen by the charity). During your first year you work towards a PGCE qualification (you’re paid as an unqualified teacher) and you finish the training after two years (during which you’re paid as a qualified teacher).

Entry requirements: A 2:1 degree or above (and above 300 Ucas points), A-levels in relevant subject areas, grade C in GCSE maths and English. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy and should be able to show qualities such as resilience and organisational skills.

Researchers in Schools (RIS), which includes the Maths and Physics Chairs programme is a tailored, salaried teacher training course for high-calibre candidates, who have completed or are finishing, their PhD.  Advantages are: no fees to be paid towards your teacher training and you’ll earn a competitive salary with an additional salary uplift during the first two years for maths and physics participants. You’ll be part of a structured programme of university-style tutorials based on your PhD and you’ll receive a minimum of 10 weeks’ paid holiday. You will also receive honorary research associate status from a leading university, allowing you the opportunity to maintain an independent research profile and you’ll get a full teacher’s pension and excellent opportunities for progression.

Entry requirements: The programme is open to applicants who have completed or are finishing a PhD in the following subjects: physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, computing, geography, English and modern foreign languages (French, German or Spanish).

Assessment Only: Ideal for an experienced teacher with a degree. You can achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) without having to do any further training. Assessment Only allows you to demonstrate that you already meet all of the standards for QTS. To achieve QTS via the AO route, you’ll need to present detailed evidence that you meet the standards. Your teaching will be assessed in a school by an accredited and approved AO provider. A number of universities, colleges, schools and SCITTs around the country offer AO. Their criteria for entry may vary, and you will need to apply to them directly if you are interested in this route to QTS.

Entry requirements: This way of achieving QTS is only available to unqualified teachers who have taught in at least two schools, early years and/or further education settings. You’ll also need to take the professional skills test in literacy and numeracy before you can be accepted onto the route.

Future Teaching Scholars: The Future Teaching Scholars programme is a six-year programme for high-calibre candidates. It offers financial support and extra training while you’re a maths or physics undergraduate, followed by specialist teacher training. In exchange for taking a maths- or physics-related degree, you’ll receive a £15,000 grant and early preparation for teaching while studying for your degree. After graduating, you’ll receive bespoke employment-based teacher training – earning a salary while you learn and working in schools from day one – with additional support for two further years and support finding your first teaching job.

More information is available on the Future Teaching Scholars website.

Now Teach: The Now Teach programme is designed to help people who have already had a successful career to become great teachers in London and Hastings. Providing tailored wraparound support for career changers, the programme helps senior professionals re-deploy their skills in the classroom. The course is school-based and is delivered in partnership with leading Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers over two years, during which you will achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and complete you Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) induction year.

Entry requirements: Now Teach are working in London and Hastings and are mainly looking for experienced teachers of maths, computer science, languages (French and Spanish), geography and all sciences. You must have a GCSE in both maths and English at grade C or above (or equivalent) and an undergraduate honours degree. You should also have an A-level or related degree/career to the subject you wish to teach.

3. Think about your long-term goals for your career: Now that you have a good understanding of the various ways of getting into teaching you should consider career progression and where you want to be in 10 or 15 years’ time before you pick your path – does this qualification take you where you want to go? If you have no teaching experience yet, I would highly recommend to do a work placement first as people often imagine teaching to be very different from how it really is. Think carefully about the key stage and subjects you want to teach as once you have specialised in an area, it’s hard to shift to another and it might take time and money for additional training.

Expert tip: Read about education on TES and look in the jobs section for positions you’d ideally be interested in once qualified. Check the education and experience requirements in the job description to see what is expected for this role. This will give you an idea what training and experience you would have to gain first, how much you’d have to invest and if this would pay off looking at the salary (some schools state the salary, but you can also check the teacher salaries here: https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/funding-and-salary/teacher-salaries). After analysing all of this information you should be ready to take the next step closer to your teaching career. If you’re still unsure, you can speak to advisors on the Get Into Teaching website and they can answer all the remaining questions you have on an individual level directly. Good luck!

E-Learning – why it is growing and what you need to know

Are you still sceptical of learning or studying online? You better think again as the e-learning market is predicted to exceed $ 200 billion by 2024! The demand for it is growing, especially in parts of the world where people can’t easily access schools or universities. However, if you have a connection to the internet and a computer or phone you’re pretty much set to begin your learning journey online.

E-learning doesn’t just include online studies, but it also covers mobile e-learning, learning management system (LMS) or virtual classrooms. The advantages of these solutions are that they are highly customized to cater to the varying learning capabilities of the user and they also offer employers or universities more flexibility with the way they provide training. Another advantage in a globalised world of today is that students can connect and communicate with each other all over the world.

More and more online courses are available

If you find it difficult to commit to classical full-time studies on campus then you should consider studying online. There are currently 2,413 distance learning programmes available in the UK. Here are the 5 top UK universities for distance learning that could help you get ahead in your career. They offer all types of programmes that might interest you, from Bachelor, Master and PhD. programmes, to Short Courses.

  1. The Open University UK – with over 170,000 students, top degree qualifications, this university attracts international students with flexible, high quality online degrees and distance learning programmes. Plus, the university’s research has placed it in top 50 in the UK.
  2. University of Liverpool in a coop. with Laureate Online Education – One of the top eLearning institutions in the world according to Financial Times, it offers 41 distance learning courses from a wide area of disciplines.
  3. School of Oriental and African Studies – The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a college of the University of London and the only Higher Education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and the Middle East. It offers 51 distance learning courses.
  4. Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Campus – With a population of 31,000 students from UK/EU and around 1,700 international students, it is one of the largest universities in the East of England. Their students are on courses leading to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as to a range of professional qualifications.
  5. University of Birmingham – Named 2016’s University of the Year for Graduate Employment by The Times, the University of Birmingham offers highly interactive, online postgraduate courses in business and public services.

But not only established universities offer e-learning options. You can also find many experts or smaller companies providing online short courses, especially for digital skills. One of them is ClickDo Ltd., an SEO & digital marketing consultancy, that offer online courses on their platform https://www.clickdoacademy.com/. These courses are designed to offer practical and step-by-step online lectures that will provide you with everything you need to know about digital marketing and more.

Still not sure about e-learning? The longer you wait and hesitate, the faster it’ll catch up with you. Get into it now before it’s too late!

How to start distance learning in UK?


In this post, you will know FREE ONLINE EDUCATION: Distance Learning Scholarships & Courses

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