Social Networking and Learning

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What a change from our traditional education.  Think back to the way we learned, the tools that we thought were great, and the work we did, now fast forward to our education system today and it is absolutely mind blowing how our children are learning. 

Social networking is playing a huge role in education right now, and why not?  It is what people do, they go to Facebook for their news, to see what their friends are up to, to share things with others, and to communicate.  A large percent of people have Facebook and access it daily.  It would only make sense to start using these forms of communication to promote academics.  It is a tool to easily communicate with others.  

I also think that the communication and collaboration will be instrumental when using social networking.  The communication will be in real time.  Students will be able to have conversations about projects and homework. 

Even though there are benefits to using social networking, teachers and instructors will have to be very strategic with the planning and implementing of such learning.  The Online Social Network as formal learning article stated that you might want a student to read all of the post, but comment on two of them, how do you know if the student has read all the other posts.  Again, like we have talked about in many of our other posts, taking control of your own self-development, exploring and learning about social networking and how it can be used within a school is going to be extremely important when trying to implement this form of learning.

I think social networking could be huge in communication.  A board or page could be created for a classroom.  On the board or page you could post homework, classwork, class projects, and classroom happenings.  This could also be a valuable tool for parents as well.  Web 2.0 tools are hard for me to incorporate in my classroom since my students are so young, and just learning the foundations of reading and writing.  I could easily see social networking being used in middle and high school levels.  I think that it would be highly motivating to students, and it something that students are very familiar with.  This would also help in the motivation because they are learning through something they enjoy and know a lot about.

I have used Facebook as a school and as a district.  We have Facebook pages for each, they are meant to communicate with our families and community to show what our school and district are doing. Our Superintendent also has a Twitter account to showcase our school and what we have to offer.  We think it is important to promote the good things we do, we get a lot of bad press because we are a city district, with a lot of our schools falling in the failing range within the state.   Most people use social networking, so it is a great way to reach people. 

I have also been thinking about creating a Facebook page for my classroom.  It might be a helpful resource for parents.  I could include weekly events and things we will be learning in the classroom.  This way parents would be able to chat with their children about exactly what we are doing in our classroom. I know when I ask my daughter about school, she doesn't give me much information.  This could be a great communication tool and help parents become more involved.

Teaching, A New Look

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The major challenge I see in balancing self-development and teaching is getting teachers on board and wanting to develop themselves as learners in a new role of a teacher.  It is always hard to start and try something new, and especially when you are change the way you impact students.  It will also take a lot of planning on the teachers behalf.  They will need to explore what is out there, ensure it is appropriate and meeting the objectives within the classroom, and then learn how to implement the desired tool.
Teachers are now going to have to "self-develop" and become familiar with the tools that are out there.  They will have to develop ways to use these tools that meet their needs.

I think some ways for me to achieve the balance would be to start off small and progressively dig deeper into technology.  I liked how the articles looked into Skype, where you can now bring in master's of a give field to enhance the students learning.  You could also do this with YouTube.  I could easily incorporate some realistic views into my lessons.  For example, I do a lesson on community helpers.  I could find some video clips of community helpers who are interviewed, and share that with my students.  I would say that in the past we would look for volunteers to come in to school and talk about their profession, we can now give students this experience with one click and immediately. 
I also think it is easier for me to adopt these changes, because I am really interested in technology.  So I want to jump in and try new things.  That isn't the case for everyone that I work with, so I could act as a guide, or facilitator in helping my colleagues explore and use technology practices in their classroom.
I also have to work on my release of responsibility and allow my students to take more control of their learning.  Maybe, allow them to guide me more that me guiding them.  It is hard since my students are so young, but if I teach and explore that way now they will have learned the skills needed to make their later learning experiences more meaningful.  So I would say this is one other way I can achieve this balance is to start revamping my lessons to include a bit more student guided learning. 
I also like the article stated we are no longer in control as a teacher but rather influences to our students.  I do run my classroom so that I am not the one in control, I am not the only presence int the room teaching.  I encourage my students to want to learn by creating a loving, caring environment conducive to learning.  I share personal stories, and get excited when I get to teach a new concept.  This has really enhanced my teaching and the students learning.  They are now influenced by my actions, excitement and loving environment.  They want to do well, they want to learn and they do.


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I think the notion of fluid epistemology is wonderful.  We no longer have one person standing up and delivering a message that will only reach a few learners.  We are now holding the students accountable for their learning, and the learning of their peers.  They are now expected to be more involved in their learning process.  We, as teachers give them the tools they need, they guidance on how to use the tools and complete and assignment, and act as an aide to helping them, but they are the ones responsible for the bulk of the learning.

The fact that the learning is done collectively is also important.  It teaches students how to work together, support one another and debate with one another in a respectful way.  They will challenge each other, and therefor learn from each other.  This, in itself will create positives when the students are ready for the workplace.

I liked how the article brought up the fact that we as teachers don't allow cell phones or devices to be brought into our classroom, never mind used in there to enhance learning.  However, this could be a very valuable tool with little to no expense for the teacher or the district.  Students could use their own devices to access the information.  Sure, teachers would have to closely monitor the use of the devices, but it could be a great starting tool for us.

I also enjoyed the section about our standards being a hodgepodge of what experts think our students should be learning.  Yet they don't take into consideration what a student will need to know in order to be successful in the 21st century.  I am bothered by the fact that non-teachers are telling us how and what is important to teach.  We should have a voice where standards are concerned.

I think that by allowing our students to explore and figure things out on their own using their resources, the learning becomes more real for the students and they have a higher level of understanding.  Being able to learn in a social setting allows peers and experts to input data to help support you answer or challenge it. 

The relationship between connectivism and epistemological shift is that learning is no longer based on one single presenter.  Students are now working collaboratively within their social learning communities.  They are taking control of their own learning while influencing others in the process. 

There are a number of resources out there to be used in creating such a learning community.  Most of these tools are Web 2.0 tools, so there needs to be a shift in how we deliver material and the roles of teachers and students.  We need to give the students the skills to go out there and be successful and showing them such tools as Web 2.0 will help us attain that goal. 

There is truly a shift from traditional teaching, or classical epistemology as Dede refers to it.  We need to think outside the box, explore the tools that are out there for us, and learn how to use them effectively in our classroom.  It is the way of the world and our students need to be ready.

Week 7 Blog Summary

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The job of the blog leader is rather interesting.  Not only are we expected to read other blogs but then dissect them and see where the similarities and differences lie. 

I will be looking at the blog post by:
Josemaria Carazo Abolafia
Devon Marie Mower
Chrystal Maggiore
myself, Sharray Kleinfelter

A similarity was that we all agree using media can enhance the learning process for our students.  It would just depend on what extent you would use it, factoring in the grade level you teach and your main goal of the lesson being taught. 

Some of groups highlights on Flickr is that it is useful to foster creativity, (Josemaria) endless learning options cross curricular, (Chrystal) appeal to the varying learning styles, (Devon) and it allows students to be very personal in the projects. (Sharray)  Flickr adds a new level with lots of possibilities to learning.

Chrystal and I both agreed that digital storytelling would be something great to try in our classrooms.  We both found that concept very interesting.  We also both made similar comments to the way we learned, or started out with teaching in the fact you had to hand make posters and go to a copy machine to copy pictures from a book.  I think we all agree that having these new technologies make our world of teaching a whole lot more fun and exciting if we take the time to explore what is out there and take on the responsibility to learn the tools.

As for Podcasting our highlights were podcasting is a great way to summarize and verbally answer questions, (Sharray) and it is a tool to recruit students, share news, support students learning needs and enhance learning. (Devon)

We had some difference of opinions at this point.  I thought podcasting would be great for my little ones as it builds oral sentence fluency which would transfer into later writing, where Josemaria thought podcasting would be more beneficial in the adult learning context.  I think this is one way our class is so unique and will learn much more from each other.  I am primary education and most are secondary, so it opens up new insights to strictly learning and then also differentiates it for grade levels.

As a whole we all agree that using Web 2.0 and like tools we are now able to reach all learners within our classroom.  That is a huge task for a teacher, and now we are given some additional resources to enhance our learning.  

Josemaria brought the aspect of YouTube up, which was great.  I, myself had a duh moment where I thought, why didn't I think to bring YouTube up.  You have the power to incorporate this weeks learning into one area using YouTube.  It was great to see this aspect explored a bit.  Yet I have to agree with Josemaria, we need to be very mindful of what we are placing on this site.

Chrystal's closing sentences, media makes our learning richer and deeper than we can go with words alone, and access to media that can be used and remixed in Web 2.0 is a gift for instructors and learners, really states how we feel about the use of media within our classroom.


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The audio and still/video media add a new dimension to the learning process.  You are now able to hold one-on-one lessons with others who are all around the world by using video chats and like materials.  The power of this technology is amazing, since you can keep it for as long as you would like, you can go back and listen to the material whenever needed, and review the important parts of the lesson with a simple click.  

Watching the videos, I thought that the voice with screen shots would be a great tool, which is easy to implement.  You can display your important material, and discuss it as the screen shot is up.  It seems to me like using posters and organizers in your classroom while you teach the students who sit in front of you, now you have a larger audience that you can target. 

I was very interested in the Pedagogical Uses of Flickr article.  I thought of it more on a personal level at first with being able to share my photos with family that are far away.  I think it is a great way to stay connected and see what is going on with others you are close to.  But then I realized the magnitude it could provide to learning.  It allows students to be very personal with their projects.  They are now able to find pictures related to their writing topics and produce graphics to enhance their final product.  I could also see digital storytelling as a great way to keep parents informed about what we are doing in the classroom.  Plus, as a scrap booker myself, I could really get into this type of communication.  The other stand out part for me was the bubbling comic dialogue.  Dialogue is really a tricky concept to teach, but I think this would help the students understand the concept of dialogue by seeing the bubbles.  Again, this would be lots of fun, and very engaging for the students.  I do think it is important to note that using these forms of technology within a classroom, the teacher has to have very specific expectations, a set of rules for appropriate usage, and an accountability piece.  The teacher also has to really monitor what is happening during these lessons.

As for podcasting, I like the teaching-driven podcasting because it is a two-way podcast where there is continuous communications. (And obviously I am a teacher, so this one would make the most sense to me.)  I also think podcasting would be a great way to summarize.  As for my little students, this could be a great resource.  They can verbally answer or give a summary, and then listen to it.  My students are just learning how to write, and are often frustrated by writing, but to be able to verbalize their thoughts in complete sentences will eventually transfer into their writing.  As a school district we could use the marketing-drive podcasting to promote what things our schools are doing, and be utilized as a resource again to create more parent interactions.  Podcasting is also flexible and affordable, both things we are all in need of, and will make them easy to implement.



As I was reading the articles I was thinking of students who are too sick to participate in school.  Using these types of media we would be able to have face-to-face interaction with the students who are not able to be active learners in a classroom. 

I also think these types of media will help us better reach all learners.  We will have another tool for differentiation.  In my learning style, I need to process information before I am able to respond, and discuss, I also go back through notes and readings to make sure I fully understand the concepts.  This will help those auditory learners that need the time to process and repeat notes.  It also allows the teacher to move faster for those who need it, where the other students are able to move at their pace. 

 I know we haven't discussed Google Drive but I am more familiar with it, when you think about how it allows students to input data, revise, enhance and provide feedback to the creator, it becomes a very powerful collaborative tool.  I like how the teacher is able to see who added what, and who contributed to a discussion.

I could see paperless teaching becoming very popular and think that this trend is already starting to happen.  We have basically done away with overhead projectors because of the use of interactive white boards.  We are able to use a website to administer reading, writing, math and spelling tests.    The world of learning is definitely being driven by technology.  It's a powerful thing!



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  • How would you characterize blogging by students in a formal class situation (MRKT 3311 as an example or our course blogs too) vs. more open-ended student blogs (such as the Cornell blogs)?


Formal classrooms have set guidelines, questions to be answered, and expectations for the content and comments, where an open-ended student blog allows more freedom to write how you feel and on items of interest to you.

I also think that the conversations, in a more open-ended blog can lead anywhere, but formal class blogs are designed to stay to a topic and explore in the realms of that topic.

I would say that a formal class situation would also have a timeline, or time guidelines to responding.  Where an open-ended would allow for some more freedom with time constraints.  For us, we are looking to others for feedback on our blogs in order to help us understand the content we were given.  We need our classmates to respond quickly so we have time to digest and respond back to our peers.

One last point I see is that with our formal class blogs we are looking to the people in our classroom for input and not other people.  We are all reading the same material and giving feedback to those points, so we need our class responses to help. Where and open-ended blog is open to the community to comment and respond.  Looking at the Cornell blogs, they have communication among the school, so an education major can interact with a business major.  This could, again lead to some very interesting conversations.





  • How would you characterize blogs written by teachers and/or independent bloggers?


I would characterize teacher blogs as information routing.  It opens up our profession to a broader audience rather than just our connections close by.  We are now able to easily collaborate with teachers from other districts, states, and even countries.  It opens us up for some very valuable feedback, and insight.  I like the idea of being able to collaborate with other professionals from around the world, to make myself a better teacher.  Like what was stated through Diigo, Pinterest and TPT are great resources for us as teachers, to get ideas and feedback on products and ideas.  Having an educational blog, would allow us to have more authentic learning practices within our teaching.  We would be able to pull resources from others who are experienced with challenges we might be facing.

      We are also able to get the feedback and information immediately, by using blogs we have the information right at our fingertips.  It is easily accessible.  People don't have to all be together in order to interact which is great.  It can be done when the time is convent and you are not forcing people to meet at a given time to accomplish your goal.  This is a fantastic thing, considering we are all so busy with life, but would like to have the lesson delivered, or the learning take place, but just don't have the time to join in a presentation of class. 

I also think that the diversity aspect of blogging is huge, we are able to communicate with people who have had different experiences or backgrounds.  Again this will create authentic learning environments.  We look to our immediate peers for guidance, but they deal with the norm of a building daily, as well.  So it would be great to expand and get an outsiders opinion on a given situation.

            An independent blogger will also get insightful feedback, but I would characterize independent bloggers as more personal to your likes and interests.  This type of blogging would be geared toward a different audience than teachers.  Again, thinking about the concept of Pinterest, I have a board for teaching, which is great, but I also have lots of personal boards.  I think I would interact with others on my personal board much different than those following my educational boards.  There is a different standard for the teaching board. 

The Possibilities

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The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1).  What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?


Web 2.0 has a lot to offer students in all learning domains.  They are challenged and pushed outside the comfort zone, and motivated intrinsically.  In my opinion the intrinsic motivation is a good enough reason for me to instill the Web 2.0 tools within my classroom. 

Looking at the table, it makes a teacher smile.  The cognitive processing involved at each level intensifies, and deepens the understanding of the concepts.  Like teaching in general, we are encouraged to get the students to think critically, reflect and have a level of independence.  The fear I have is that it is hard to get students to that level, and some tend to take the easier routes.  With Web 2.0n learning teachers are also going to have to stretch outside their comfort zones and learn the new ways of doing things, especially those at the higher cognitive level.  But how many teachers will embrace the change?

I find it hard to do Web 2.0 learning with my students because they are so young.  They are not ready for tagging, creating video, writing journaling or typing.  I feel it is my job to prepare them with the background knowledge they need to expand on these types of learning in the future.  What I mean by that is, I am getting them familiar with the devices and the keyboard, in order for their next teacher.  That way they can have those technological features in their classrooms, with students who are prepared. 

On a personal level, and professional level I think tagging, collaborative writing and journaling are awesome.  We are now able to do grade level planning without having to all be together.  We can also look at building level initiatives and share ideas, again without being together.  However, isn't it important to still have the face-to-face interaction?  I think a lot of people are losing those social skills because of the advancements in technology.

Some highlights from the article for me were users classify Web pages and Web resources by organizing them with labels that make sense to the learner, freeing the learner from force fitting items into boxes that do not make sense to them.  This sounds to me like an easy way to differentiate and meet all the learners needs.  Differentiation is a hard task.  Another interesting part was the fact that the processes of individual and social tagging helps learners engage in deeper learning, but there is a misconception regarding the subject matter.  This, to me sounds like "you can't trust everything you read on the Internet."  It is important that you make sure the information is factual and real before using it in an educational setting.  This is important because we have to look into the resources of the material we are learning.  We cannot just believe everything that is on the Web.  We as teachers need to make students aware of this fact.

I took a lot from the implementation for teachers.  Like everything educators do, it is important to know your material, understand the material, know where to look, be prepared and well planned, all while meeting all the learners needs.




Which of the technologies listed in the Horizon report are you most likely to explore and consider for your context and why?  How would you consider applying the tools and how might it fit with the Hsu et al. categories?


I am interested in the data mash-up.  Before taking this course I didn't realize there was such a thing as feedly.  I think it is great to have access to one source with the links a click away.  I am very much OCD so my brain likes the concept of mash-ups.  It keeps things organized and together. 

I think mash-ups would fit into the tagging component to Hsu et al.  I would consider this technology to be a better fit among colleagues for me as a first grade teacher, but could see how easily upper grade levels could incorporate the technique.  I could also use this technology with my parents, and give them one source to check out rather than sending them to many different sites. 

In my area

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Check out this news article that appeared in our daily paper.  The headlines read Laptop Programs Compute in Lebanon County.

And on facebook the title was:
From Cedar Crest to Northern Lebanon, districts are offering computers to students, striving to bridge any technology gaps. How does your district handle computers for pupils?

There were  a lot of people who felt this was  not needed, and very disappointed in the fact that teachers we let go in a school district but they can afford new devices for students.  As you read the article it stated that there is a mix between devices, teacher interaction, and collaborative group work at one school.  I feel that our readings this week looked at that aspect and it is needed to have the merge between all components.
Here is the link:

Changing Roles

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I felt the readings were very powerful for me.  It made me think about how I run my classroom and already contemplated things I could do differently.  I wanted to know more about A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, so I bought the book. 

Two statements from A New Culture of Learning Part 2 that hit me were: Learning is happening everywhere, all the time and where imaginations play, learning happens.  I teach the younger children and I think it is truly amazing the amount of growth we see in their first grade year.  They are able to come up with new ways of thinking, make connections that I hadn't noticed and teach their peers when things are unclear.  They are amazing little human beings.  I do teach in a public city school where we have very high percents of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged.  I have many students who come to me with very little background knowledge, and a very small vocabulary.  So I know the struggles first hand that we teachers face.  But when you think of the two statements you no longer look at their disadvantages but rather where can I take them.  Maybe this is why I am so passionate about teaching.  I personally love to watch the interactions that occur during our structured play.  I allow my students to explore with manipulatives before teaching them a lesson, and you would be surprised at how many students get the concept before it was delivered.  Some students will need a little more guidance, but they will explore and often learn something through exploring.  I also thought about the statement made in the video clip that learning outside of school fosters learning within the school, also stating what happens outside of school will have powerful influences.  We see this everyday.  Kids pick up everything, good or bad and it impacts their lives while at school.

In A New Culture of Learning Part 1, my blood pressure went up while reading about testing.  I think about the demands put on us and how we adapt to them yet we still use the same testing that we had when I was young.  It doesn't make too much sense.  I use a lot of formative assessment in my classroom and base my groups and data off knowing my kids and knowing what they can do.  I can always defend my decisions so my principal doesn't give me too much grief about not having the data on a spreadsheet from a test.  It is nice to be able to have that flexibility and understanding.  I often fight against tests being the end all for students data.  We use DIBELS and many think that it tells us exactly where students should be reading given their scores on nonsense word fluency (NWF).  Yet I have kids who did poorly on NWF and can read 60 words per minute on a fluency check with real words and real meaning.  (Figure that one out.)

I really liked the thinking of a teacher as a mentor or a facilitator.  I think it gives lots of flexibility to your classroom and your students.  It allows the opportunity for learning to take off in many directions.  I also like how teachers are able to guide the learning while students are exploring on their own.  To me, this concept makes perfect sense. 

I also thought the part about explicit and tacit was explained in such a way to encompass the hierarchy of learning.  Again, guiding the students at first and then allowing them to make meaning from the content.  I see this as taking the learning to a deeper understanding, ultimately, isn't' that what we want to do?

I also learn best from "playing" around with things.  I like to tinker and explore and find that I retain more information that way and tend to have a deeper knowledge because I figured it out on my own.

Responses to the questions:

How would one differentiate between learners and teachers/facilitator in the context of participatory learning in Web 2.0?

It seems to me that the roles are going to be flipping.  We are going to become both learners and teachers simultaneously.  We will no longer have one teacher in the front of the room "teaching" 25 students all at the same time and doing the same activity.  I liked that the video said we need to merge formal and informal learning. 

Participatory learning will now enable teachers to have technological tools to embrace a virtual community where all members are important and inputting information for others.  They will be able to ask questions and receive answers in a matter of seconds.  They will have the power to plan, create, design, and write with someone who is half way around the world.   We use participatory learning in our own social lives through facebook and other networks.  I also feel it is like us using a Google Doc in our classroom, everyone has access to the same item and we all have the power to work together to make it better.   

What do you see as your role in 2025? (for example how do you see your role in your professional context adapting to differences in information/content access, directed vs. self-learning and the notion of learning as mobilizing networks)

The role of a teacher is surely changing, and will continue to as we proceed.  My role in 2025 will be more a role of a facilitator guiding students into the learning process and allowing them to explore.  I don't think we are going to have as much direct learning from one given person but rather a self-learning environment that fosters peer interactions and input.  Our resources will expand and our knowledge of technology will increase giving us easier access to to such learning that we have explored through our reading.

Responding to the Articles.

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I apologize for my late posts.  I had some unexpected things arise this week.

Here are my responses to the questions:

-How is learning presumed to occur within the context of Web 2.0?

Learning is presumed to occur through interactions with peers, colleagues, and scholars.  It is a collaborative work that builds on the needs of the learner.  The focus is shifted from what we learn to how we are learning.  It is geared toward social interactions which are guided through thoughts of others, suggestions, and feedback from others.  A new spin on learning compared to the traditional lectures, and classroom based instruction.  There is also a shift in the role the learner takes on.

-What are the differences in the role of the learner and the facilitator as compared to 'traditional' learning environments? (Do you consider these roles and processes viable/valid given your philosophy of learning?)

This might be the section I enjoyed most.  The difference is that the role of the learner can easily be changed to the facilitator and vise versa.  Where in a traditional learning environment there tends to be one facilitator and a group of learners.  There is not much of an opportunity to release the role of the facilitator to the learner. 
I think this new way of learning is exciting.  It is exactly what we are striving for in education today, release of responsibility and the inquiry processes within learning.  We want the learner to experience things on their own, and learn from those experiences.  We also strive to use collaborative group work, which aides in learning from those around you.  When a student makes a discovery on their own, they are more likely to remember it.  If they are then able to explain or teach others about their findings, the teacher knows they completely understand what was learned.  A great accomplishment for a teacher is to "see that light bulb go on."  I think this new way of learning is very viable and valid to what I am striving for within my classroom.

-What implications do these shifts have for how we think about designing learning environments?

I think one huge implication we have as far as my district is having the actual devices to support the technology that we are utilizing.  I am very fortunate that my principal sees the value in technology and gives me the needed tools, but as a school and district we don't have the means for every teacher to support this.  We are getting much better, and I have realized that we are ahead of the game compared to other districts in our area, but we also have room for improvement. 
Another implication is for teachers to take the time needed to learn about the tools available and how they can be implemented.  There is a level of dedication that is needed in order to make technology work within a classroom and for all learners.
One last implication would be having teachers "get on board" with the new learning enviornments.  Some people might not see the value and or are not familiar enough with what is available that they might not want to change what is happening in their classroom.  Since this structure is inevitably going to change our classrooms from what we were taught the structure should be, a lot might find it to be very scary and not want to adopt the new design.

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