Inclusive learning and teaching environments course – week 3

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This is the last week of the course. It focuses on how we can use technology to encourage collaboration in a range of learning situations and the emergence of the ‘technology power user’. Again an amount of learning materials are covered. I’d like to summarise it into five aspects.

First, preparing to support online learning inclusively. Aiming to ensure that the education is as inclusive as possible for disabled students.

JISC has provided guides to supporting online learning. It is imported to make online students feel they are connected with the institution.

Well-designed course activities can make them feel involved, but it’s useful to provide additional online social spaces, such as dedicated discussion forums or regular live chat sessions, to encourage interaction. This also provides an opportunity for students to feed back about the course and their learning experience.

Provide accessible support materials. For example the “Essential Digital Skills and Awareness” resources on the Southampton Solent University website.

The Journal of Inclusive Practice in further and higher education, Issue 5.1 Special Edition (2013) included ten research articles about the disability services in educational institutions.

The SCOPE website lists information of assistive technology and services for disabled people.

Second, considering accessibility when using social media, multimedia, mobile, mind mapping, and cloud technologies. Social media technologies allow people to connect and share information easier. Multimedia technologies allow people to interact with learning materials through multiple ways. Mobile technologies increase the flexibility of reaching online resources without location limits. Cloud technologies make backup, recovery and store documents easier. Mind mapping technologies provide another way for people to present their learning outcomes.

It is necessary to mention the JISC Digital Student Project again. Ray’s story shows how social media technologies can help his learning.

Many universities started to adopt social media and media technologies in teaching. For example, Queen’s University provides Social media accessibility of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Apple, Windows, and Android mobile phone system providers all published accessibility support guides.

Inclusive design is an important part of accessibility and usability. The University of Cambridge developed an Inclusive Design Toolkit which has helped me to understand the terms of ‘Design for all‘, ‘Universal design‘ and ‘inclusive design‘.

Third, considering accessibility in assessment. Thinking about offering different assessment modes and different choices within tasks to allow students to show their learning outcomes. JISC’s Making Assessments Accessible is the handy guide to get started.

Creating accessible examinations and assessments for disabled students article provides some useful suggestion for inclusive assessment. It is from the SHEFC-funded Project – Teachability: Creating an accessible curriculum for students with disabilities.

Plymouth University students and academics talked about their experiences of inclusive assessment and gave their advice on best practice.

A short video created by the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) introduces the way of designing assessment.

Inclusive teaching resources: Offer Flexible Assessment and Delivery generated by RMIT University is a useful guide for people to design, deliver and assess learning inclusively.

Introduction to Accessible Standardized Testing aims to provide design guidelines for building accessible standardized testing tools for Open Education Resource (OER) authors. It is from the Floe Inclusive Learning Design Handbook, which is a part of the Floe Project produced by the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University.

Fourth, thinking about “digital wellbeing“. Digital wellbeing is defined by JISC as follows. It brings the concerns such as workload, lack of time to explore digital approaches, stress and information overload, the responsibility staff take for the wellbeing of students, cyberbullying, and managing time.

The capacity to look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings.

Fifth, what can I do in my practice? I think it’s important to be aware of the inclusive teaching and learning as the first step. When I create new materials, bearing in mind the “born accessible” is the key. Talking to people about the inclusive teaching and learning when I support them is a slow but necessary way to make it happen.

More useful resources and tools:

Important developments in technology for Higher Education from 2017 to 2021

A diagram to summarise the important developments in technology for Higher Education

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Inclusive learning and teaching environments course – week 2

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This week, we had overwhelming information on the topic – how we can develop inclusive learning and teaching environments.

First, we need university-wide strategies and disability policies that help staff to understand the Equality Act 2010 or relevant Disability Act requirements and guide staff to realise and change mechanisms to support disabled students. These are two examples of Cornell University and University of Plymouth which show how they have suggested staff to foster inclusive teaching and learning environments. I think the checklist for inclusive teaching (from University of Playmouth) is particularly useful. It should be a part of the baseline (or sometimes called minimum standards) for VLE and relevant learning technologies in supporting online activities. It should guide not only the academic staff but also all support/professional staff.

Second, can technology helps? Yes, but we need to know limits of a technology, policies supporting disabled students, and teaching approaches. For example, the following statement is on a list of suggested good practice of communication in an inclusive way. It shows technology is not the first solution, we need to change our approaches before use a technology.

Notes or slides uploaded to a content management system or virtual learning environment 48 hours before the event.” (section 2.2)

Then we discussed the use of technologies such as lecture capture, presentations, note taking, TTSe-books, e-journals and students support.

So how about supporting students in different subjects such as STEM, Arts or Architecture? Think about the learners who are with mobility limits, hearing impairment, colour-blinded, or dyslexia, how assistive technology can support them in undertaking reading, assignment, writing, typing, or presenting? Through a few real learner cases, we discussed what should improve, what technologies can be used and what resource formats creators need to generate. My immediate taking includes:

Timely, the latest Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence guide identified 5 risks of adopting a strategic approach to reasonable
adjustments and what possible mitigating actions the HEP can take
.

Resources for us to understand inclusive teaching and learning:

Tools for supporting inclusive teaching and learning:

Blended Learning Course week 5

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The last week of the course is about wider issues around blended learning: digital skills, inclusiveness, and flexibility. I didn’t expect that it is short and pass quickly.

I wasn’t aware of the Agored Cymru’s Essential Skills Wales provides standards for employment in today’s workplace. It includes essential skills for learners (Level 1-3 – Application of Number, Communication, Digital literacy, Employability, Skills for work and life) and essential skills for practitioners (Level 3 – Digital literacy, Employability, ESOL, Literacy, and Numeracy; Level 2 – Supporting Adults and Young People in Essential Skills). The resource I refer to the most is the JISC Digital Student project of exploring students’ expectations and experiences of using technology. I have learnt what I have done, I could do, and can do for students’ experience in my work through viewing the students’ stories.

I haven’t tried the Open University Being digital Self-assessment pathway, but it looks like a well-designed group of activities for helping learners to assess their digital skills and check if their online learning is effective.

The most impressive statements for me are below. It’s not very new, but it’s very useful to see the research evidences.

Learners’ digital experiences are strongly dependent on the confidence and capabilities of their teachers, but currently staff workload and career pathways are hindering staff development. (Digital Student: Further Education: FE learners’ expectations and experiences
of technology – Synthesis report
)

We must be careful that the educator’s ‘flexibility of time’ is not taken to mean ‘elasticity of time’. This is an absolutely critical issue for the successful introduction of blended learning. The effects on teacher workload are typically ignored in education strategy and policy documents, in the false assumption that going online is cheaper. It can be, but only if it is managed in a long-term and innovative way, which it rarely is. (section 5.5)

The JISC guide to using the assistive and accessible technology in teaching and learning is a handy resource for us to support inclusive teaching.

The Technology Outlook: Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges 2013-2018 is an US project report. It listed top ten trends impacting technology decisions and top ten most significant challenges. In this week I also attended an Educause webinar which shows the technology shifting to meet students’ learning requirements. It is worth reading the analysis. I jot down the impressive statements for me from the two reports as follows.

People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want. (p.17)

Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models. (p.17)

The workforce demands skills from university graduates that are more often acquired from informal learning experiences than in universities. (p.18)

The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices. (p.19)

Too often it is education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies. (p.19)

The empirical evidence strongly suggests that blended learning conditions (where at least a quarter of course content is delivered online) produce significant gains in student learning. (section 4)

In addition, I have to thank Professor Neil Morris and Professor Diana Laurillard make the course interesting and easy to follow, share good practice tips, and open learning materials to wider audience. Many useful materials about blended learning are available from the University of Leeds.

More resources and tools:

Blended Learning Course week 4

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It’s a busy week as I started another course “Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environment“. Both courses are interesting and useful which I enjoy taking. However, I feel I was tied up in most of my spare time. I definitely spent more time than the suggested 3.5 hours. I feel a bit ease after read Diana‘s tips – “Give yourself permission to ignore the rest!”.

This week aimed to help us to learn designing a blended learning course.

How can we embed technology effectively in the curriculum? The DADDIE model is a useful approach to planning and rethinking the way we support learning. I remember my colleague once introduced us to use this model. We perhaps already work through some of these steps when designing a course. However, we may not think strategically through each step to ensure that the course aligns well with the defied learning outcomes and addresses the learners’ requirements. I found an OER online book Teaching with Technology, which introduced a Backward design approach to curriculum design. It helped me understand when the assessment and learning activities design should be started in the design process and why. Also, it reminded me the ABC curriculum design method which I learnt from the ALT conference.

I really like Diana’s interpretation of “incorporating digital technology into the assessment process”, which linking to the curriculum design and the technologies that I already know: assessment tools, e-portfolios and digital feedback. It helped me to rethink how I have supported the use of the technologies.

What’s the difference between flipped learning and blended learning? So far, I have learnt that both approaches apply technologies. For example, flipped learning uses technologies for supporting self online learning before students come to class. Then in the face-to-face classroom, the knowledge learnt online is applied in the session, and technologies can be used to support activities in classroom too. Blended learning uses technologies for supporting self-online learning and face-to-face learning alongside each other in order to provide a comprehensive learning experience in a session. There are overlap, but they emphasise different pedagogic focus. These resources are very helpful for us to understand both approaches.

The most important learning in this week was to design a blended learning activity using the following structure.

  • Title
  • Age group and/or curriculum level
  • Intended learning outcome
  • The sequence of activities
  • An outline of the formative assessment for the activity

It was easy to follow because the activity allowed us to learn constructively (see the steps below). But it was not easy to complete. I did jot down different technologies I could use and activities I could deliver. However, with the criteria, the learning outcomes and assessment in mind, I ended up to simplify it and choose the most useful technologies for supporting the activities. I knew why I choose them and why I didn’t use other technologies.

  1. review a design example using this structure and discuss it according to the most important criteria;
  2. considering the criteria given, to design an one-hour blended learning activity;
  3. publish my design for others to review;
  4. reflect on this activity.

As usual, I list the more useful resources I learnt here.

The third day note of #ALTC 2017

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Keynote Speech

Peter Goodyear‘s keynote speech was about learning space. He talked about designing different types of knowledge. My understanding is what he mentioned here is explicit knowledge. Can we design implicit knowledge? He used five examples of learning spaces to state that learning space we create should be for students to shape their own learning spaces. It needs to be designed to be easy for individual learning, for staff supervision and for everyone in the room to connect to each other. He also mentioned the idea of different levels of learning spaces, and call our attention to the barriers such as languages and concepts we used. Peter also pointed out in research we often have findings that rely on correlations between two elements. However is this the reality of what students are doing in classroom? Student learning isn’t well supervised in the room! What we did was just not to disrupt in the environment. His research of using Activity-centred analysis and design (ACAD) framework to help learning design shows how the way changes from focusing on learning goals to focusing on learning activities. It’s quite true to use design as reasoning for what actually students do in the space.

Morning Sessions

A very useful session for me is to learn the ABC (Arena Blended Connected) curriculum design from Natasa Perovic and Clive Young’s (UCL) “Presentation: Our rapid blended learning design method is ACE! [1728]”. As they introduced, “ABC is built on University of Ulster’s ‘Viewpoints’ approach and based on Diana Laurillard’s notion of six “learning types” from her well-established Conversational Framework.” This is a practical approach to help people to work together to design learning activities. I need to spend time on knowing the background and understanding how we can design staff engagement workshops using this approach.

I’m impressed by the TRI_IT (The Technology Related Innovation-Implementation Tool) that the University of Nottingham has developed. Richard Windle and  Adam Pryor (Loughborough University) presented in the session of “TRI-IT. You might like it. A tool to support innovation adoption in Higher Education. [1782]”. I will certainly try it and see in which context, I am able to construct a learning pattern with technologies deploy within it. I quickly browsed their HELT Open website. Their evaluation toolkit called my attention. This is something I am thinking to develop in supporting our learning resources.

Afternoon sessions

There were not many people attending the afternoon sessions. The most useful session for me was Rob Cullen’s (Manchester Metropolitan University) talk of “Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLCs): Building and sustaining a webinar community of practice. [1740]”. As it said on the website “The TLC is an exciting informal cross-institutional collaboration to provide joint CPD opportunities for everybody teaching and/or supporting learning in Higher Education.” They use Adobe Connect to run a series of open, informal, monthly interactive webinars which have built an active online community of practice. I am interested in the approaches that they used for webinar activity design as this can be a good example for our ALT Wales community to form and grow.

In addition, 7 colleagues from Cardiff University presented their wonderful work.

Presenter Session Resources
Laura Roach Reuse repurpose, recycle: Utilising existing technology to reduce staff workload in Higher Education [1714] video (from 53:35)
Christopher John and Geraint Evans EasyPoll: Risks, obstacles and instrumental success factors to developing a bespoke learning technology tool within UK Higher Education [1752]
Dewi Parry, Matt Smith and Karl Luke The Phoenix Project – Interactive Learning [1691] interactive learning
Karl Luke Using actor-network theory as a lens to explore lecture capture practices in and across spatial (re)configurations [1661]  Slides
Rebecca Ferriday The way to Academics’ Hearts is Through their Minds [1602]
Geraint Evans and Dewi Pary Developing professional networks for Learning Technologists at Cardiff University [1774]

 

There are a lot of learning and reflection after the three days. I am sure I will check back my notes of resources from the conference. I noticed that many institutions are developing learning design approaches, including students experience-focused pedagogical methods, engaging academic staff, students as partners, CPD, and community of practice. I also noticed that designing new “learning space” becomes a trend; many universities are working on reshaping teaching spaces with requirements for developing a clear strategy at the same time. The ALT is really a useful community for me. It will be the 25th conference next year.

Useful resources and tools I learnt in the day:

One thing I learnt so far is to be impactive. I haven’t done this very well. I remember in 2014, I talked to someone I met in the conference that I don’t understand why people who I don’t know follow me on Twitter. She responded: I don’t know, I suppose they agree your tweets, or maybe they thought they get useful resources from your tweets. I am kind of person who do not like to be noticed, but I realised what “impact” means from this year’s conference. Through twitter, blogs, talks, and published papers, people become influencer. I think this is a leadership skill.

After writing my notes, I worked out what is in the canvas ball. It does not tell me the future, but it does call my curiosity, and make me wonder what’s inside by looking at it from outside.
IMG_20170908_110520

The second day note of #ALTC 2017

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Keynote Speech

Siân Bayne’s keynote speech encouraged us to rethink the value of anonymity and leave space for un-nameability and ephemerality through presenting her research study on Yik Yak. The Yik Yak was popular as an anonymous messaging app among youngsters and undergraduates, and it’s closed up in May 2017 due to the problems with cyberbullying which anonymity plays a key role. Surprisingly to know that “40% of students in Higher Education have witnessed online cyberbullying in their social media networks”. On the other hand, anonymity brings “unreachability” which can “enable particular  forms of equality” (see Siân Bayne’s references). I agree what she said “…not only they did this for branding themselves but also more or less compulsory to be on Facebook to function socially…” I gradually reduced my posts on my Facebook as I sometimes feel I was on Facebook only for keeping the connection with my friends all over the world, otherwise there is no better way of keeping the connections. I will read the article “You are the Product” to learn how personal data are used by Facebook. I came across the Tor project, which aims to protect people’s data against a common form of Internet surveillance. However, I wonder how secure of using services like Tor will be.

Morning sessions

It’s good to see Fotios Misopoulos’ presentation of “Effectiveness of Learner-to-Learner Interaction in e-learning: An instructors’ perspective [1776]” (University of Liverpool). It showed a study of dimension of interactions that proves students using discussion board get better grades if they are encouraged to participate in a way that (1) having questions lead to common interested topics, (2) having questions that bring different views to debate, or (3) having questions students link to their own experience and stories.

I was particularly interested in Vicki Holmes and Adam Bailey’s (University of Reading) presentation of “Right Here! Right Now! Placing pedagogy at the heart of web-conferencing [1783]” as I have been involved in the Blackboard Collaborate project in Cardiff University. It will be good to compare how they have supported the technology from early adoption stage to business as usual. They had a 2-year project and chose the early adopters who had impact on students learning experience by adopting the technology. From their online support resources, I can’t see many differences from what we have offered to our users. However, their three groups of use cases are something I can look at in depth as we didn’t list our use cases in this way. They suggested good practice from these aspects: clear purpose, design for interaction, presentation techniques and prepare students. They also shared the things they learnt from the project: the technology increased flexibility, improved communication, attendance is unaffected, positive student feedback, staff learning curve, and the importance of audio.

Redesigning the learning space seems one trend that most universities are working on. Although I didn’t intend to attend sessions about digital learning spaces, I learnt it briefly from the session of “Rethinking Lectures in Redesigned, Collaborative, Learning Environments [1784]”. Beth Snowden and Bronwen Swinnerton (University of Leeds) presented how they have designed the lecture theatre using three dimensions approach: pedagogy, space, technology and how user feedback was. Their case studies of the staff/students experience of the new lecture theatre can be seen online.

Catherine Naamani (University of South Wales) talked about a grounded theory study of students experience of digital classroom in the session of “It isn’t all about the technology: An exploration of the impact of learning space design on collaborative approaches in the digital classroom. [1803]”. I had a chance to be in the digital classroom as the part of the Digital Classroom Roadshow once. I liked the flexibility between changing groups to control presenting screens. I liked the easiness of accessing to an online group and team working. However, I dislike the fixed facilitates. It’s costy, immovable, and bonded within the space. The presentation included her findings such as staff perspective focused on technology rather than pedagogy; preparation is the key, and manage dominant groups in the classroom, technology barriers, staff development and confidence building and accessibility issues.

Afternoon sessions

In the afternoon, I attended two 1-hour workshops. I attended Thomas Cochrane’s “Mobile VR in Education Workshop [1641]” session because I am interested to see how VR can be used. I haven’t been involved in any work using mobile VR and it’s a good opportunity for me to understand its usefulness. The session details are accessible. Due to a poor WiFi connection, my experience of trying the mobile apps wasn’t as good as I expected. But I see the potential of using VR tools. I immediately thought we can use the technology to create open day virtual tour and the University maps and locations. We can also use it to create health and safety online training.

It was pity that not many people turned up in Julie Usher and Vicky Brown’s session of “EnABLing the Institution: a holistic approach to enhancing the student experience [1677]”. I quite like the activity in the session. Their work has been recognised and won the ALT team award this year. The session details are below.

More useful resources and tools I learnt in the day:

ABL
10 top tips for A.B.L. [Active Blended Learning], University of Nottingham

The first day note of #ALTC 2017

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It’s the second time I attended the ALT conference since the one in 2014. I’m glad to have the opportunity to join again.

Keynote speech

In Bonnie Stewart’s keynote speech, the most interesting norm for me is “adaptive change”, which was originally defined by Ronald Heifetz (1998). He stated that change has technical and adaptive elements. Technical challenges require changes in our skill sets. The current knowledge, expertise and resources are enough to deal effectively. Adaptive challenges require changes our mindsets. The problem is not clearly defined, and there are no clear answers. The current knowledge and expertise cannot solve the problem, but require risk taking, creativity and the ability to use “failures” as learning opportunities. (Jillian Lohndorf and Patrick Sanaghan). This may be the reason why we are unable to resolve the challenges, as we keep using technical means in adaptive challenges.

Another interesting term is “Cyborg”, which Donna Haraway used as a metaphor in her essay “A Cyborg Manifesto”. Without knowing the background of Haraway and her feminism opinions, it’s hard for me to fully understand her essay. However, I have been fascinated to find the “Life with extra Senses – How to become a Cyborg” presentation. It makes a lot of sense for me to understand where Cyborg is from and why it is a norm. It opened my eyes up to accessibility. How amazing it would be if I could sense the nature as other creatures do? I will explore the cyborgfundation later. Right now, the colours on the website is a kind of harsh for me eyes. I don’t know if this is because I’m sensitive to certain colours.

It’s a busy day. I used twitter, offline Word document, and web browser bookmark to quickly make notes. The WiFi wasn’t good, so I switched from using Google doc to an offline Word document.

Morning sessions

In Cardiff University, we provide Staff induction module and Students induction module about Learning Central (our VLE platform). However, it is open only to the University users. What I like about the York TEL Handbook from Richard Walker and Wayne Britcliffe’s session “Facilitating student-led teaching and content creation through technology: Use cases, instructional design & delivery responsibilities [1623]” is that it has embedded in their University learning and teaching strategy, and the handbook is almost completely open to public. The session resources are accessible from http://bit.ly/uoyaltc2017.

I was pleased to sit next to Fiona Handley (University of Brighton) at lunch time after attended her session of “Student technology ambassadors schemes: their impact on roles, relationships and digital skills training in UK higher education [1698]”. One unexpected finding from her research was students talked digital skills as general; they often relate to specific technology/tool, but they do not see knowing of using a technology/tool as gaining digital skills.

The findings from the Student digital experience tracker definitely help me to see the differences between students’ perception and my perceptions about students using technology and is useful for me to refer to when support staff to adopt a new technology in their teaching and learning activities. For example, we should be careful of giving suggestions when staff said almost all my students use their own devices according to the finding of 88% HE students are using personal laptops and 66% HE students are using institutional desktops.

Afternoon sessions

Daniel Roberts and Tünde Varga-Atkins from the University of Liverpool presented how they bench-marked the VLE baseline in their presentation “Are we serving from the baseline? Student and staff perspectives on an Institutional VLE Baseline requirement. [1637]”. We have released the minimum standards for Learning Central this year, and this is the University of Liverpool’s core VLE baseline. Aha, this video shows we were discussing our own practice about VEL minimum standards in the session.

My colleague Simon Wood was mentioned by Lawrie Phipps and Simon Thomson in their presentation of “VLE to PLE – The next generation of digital learning environment. [1678]”. Personalised User Learning Social Environment (PULSE) is a HEFCE funded project being led by the Centre for Learning & Teaching at Leeds Beckett University. I like the idea of changing “the ownership model of educational technology from predominantly being institutionally owned systems to ones which are personally owned by the student”. However, I think it challenges us to question how active and self–actualisation the students are to be able to take the ownership. The session polling results can be seen in the open document, and their findings from student feedback of VLE is very useful for other universities. For me, PLE is much wider than VLE which we seem to construct students’ learning in certain structure. PLE doesn’t need to be formal like the VLE which most universities are offering. It has been created informally and are changing of its forms with the learner tailors what are the most efficient ways for themselves.

I attended Peter Bryant, David White, and Donna Lanclos’ (The London School of Economics and Political Science) workshop of “Be in the conversation, not just the room – Hack your way to influencing pedagogical and technological strategy [1644]”. In the session, I learnt that Future Happens can be a practical method for helping learning technologists to propose changing solutions to steering groups and respond to questions from senior managers. I haven’t fully worked out how we can use it in our work, but I like it’s rules, such as “We are here to build not smash”.

More useful resources and tools I learnt in the day:

Good and bad:

  • I know it’s impossible to attend all sessions. The good thing is some session videos or slides are available soon, and I can view them after the conference.
  • I wonder if it’s just me who think there is little time for reflecting on each session I attended. Four sessions in an hour are a lot to take on. I would prefer to see more in-depth discussions/debate between similar work from different universities and hand-on workshops. I also wish the programme instruction provides the author’s institution.
  • The WiFi keeps disconnecting. Eduroam should work in most universities, unfortunately it isn’t. I have been in sessions required a quick online poll and Google doc group writing. No good Internet connection interrupted people. The lesson I learnt is to always prepare a Plan B of non-online activity to quickly resolve the problem of being unable to take online activity that is caused by poor WiFi.
  • Funny enough, we thought people have mobile phone or watch to check time. The reality is, people including presenters do look for a clock in the room to check time. Must be something psychological relating to this behaviour.

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