Thursday, April 07, 2011

CRISES OF THE PAPERLESS OFFICE PARADIGM--that few are talking about

CRISES OF THE PAPERLESS OFFICE PARADIGM


This is part 3 of a series of articles on how the “paperless office” and management systems paradigm are performing worldwide. The first two parts of this article can be found at these two locations: Part 1 and PART 2 are in the foot notes sections [1] and [2] below.
In Part, I provided a personal vignette on how “best practices” in education and the goal of promoting development (along a great various learning dimensions) should currently be requiring schools, human resources, and universities to constantly be training and updating all their users and stakeholder (or consumers) of the system. This has not been the case, in fact,
In that example vignette, the University of Kansas is seen to be failing to serve a variety of students and numerous potential students who (1) have not been properly trained to use the system or who (2) have physical and age-related learning deficiencies that make the few opportunities insufficient (i.e. slow learning curves are developing) to accommodate learn preferences and styles–even as the paperless institution has developed over several generations in real time.
In short, too much information is being put-out by the system. This is overwhelming certain students, clients, and user–and the institution has not developed the adequat amount of flexibility in accommodating the great variety of learning styles it faces.
On the one hand, it should be easy for both the academic or administrator to grasp or comprehend that (a) with a universe of learning styles out there and (b) with a large variety of students coming into universities with different technological experiences, it is essential that (c) constant active learning communities must be monitoring the system–especially when the university, like that one in Lawrence, Kansas has over 30,000 faculty, students staff, and service personnel to manage.
In other words, constantly evolving and flexible, client or end-user friendly procedures may be needed must be constantly redeveloped and monitored, so that any one educational institution can effectively accommodate learners as the information revolution rolls on. So, despite advances in the paperless management infrastructure, huge gaps continue to remain between knowledge and capabilities of staff–and the ongoing adaptations required by other users in our paperless offices.
This is an enormous task that we in the so-called information age and in the midst of this paperless-paradigm-dominated-managerial system or world face. Alas, most medium and large institutions and businesses, especially universities and schools are not keeping up with their roles for continuous training and monitoring of what they have created and require others to use. This is true–regardless of the platform we are discussing. These enormous needs should be constantly acquiring information from all users–not just general samples or small samples–which has been the a case to date. Any learning community would or should anticipate these needs and be open to further growth and flexibility if they are to embrace the new paradigm of the age: paperless business model doctrine.
PARADIGM SHIFT to PAPERLESS-NESSA “paradigm shift” is commonly described as: “A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift.”

http://computer.yourdictionary.com/paradigm-shift

We are supposedly in the midst of a paradigm shift in how offices, institutions, businesses and schools are run. This shift began in the early years of what was called the “Information Economy”, which started in the mid- to late 20th Century. “Twentieth-century information technology produced what’s been called a second industrial revolution, as people turned from factory work to information-related work. In today’s information economy (sometimes called a postindustrial economy), clerical workers outnumber factory workers, and most people earn their living working with words, numbers, and ideas. Instead of planting corn or making shoes, most of us shuffle bits in one form or another.”
PAPERLESS OFFICE SHIFTIn the late 1980s and 1990s people began to talk about a reformed way of organizing our lives, businesses and institutions. This was visualized within the framework of something we might call “paperless” information management.
The problem that partially has been leading to this shift over the years was the issue of storage, i.e. the problem of storing exponentially growing data. Environmentally concerned people and cost-cutting businessmen began to talk of how to use and create technology networks, so that less paper and a lot less storage space would be necessary. Many technologies in telecommunications have been encouraged and supported through this concept of storing information in vast quantities in tiny locations all over our universe. This continuing process will be supported in the future because it is both space-saving and tree-saving.
Moreover, because digitalized storage has been the mode of most of this information age, it was expected that advances in technology and standardization of network and storage facilities would grow to meet the demands of the age–through something similar to natural osmosis where everything will come-together to realize the dream of paperless institutions.
It has been perceived that efficiency in gathering, storing , and finding bits of data absolutely has demanded this shift in many business & management paradigms that run the world’s largest and medium sized institutions. Later on, the paradigm was shifted to much smaller offices and businesses, too. This new trend was spurred by the realization that autonomous units, like small computers, could be linked together through larger network and thus grain capacity through improvements in networking tools and systems of methods development.
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH IN BITS OF INFORMATIONAlas, as the paperless management systems have been created and developed over the decades, the exponential growth in data-to-be- stored–and to be rediscovered or accessed–has continued to be an important reality of the information age.
For this reason–aside from when I view TV crime dramas, like CSI, where total-information consciousness seems to be at play–the average individual still finds it difficult to imagine a perfectly developed paperless system because of the fact that as information accumulates exponentially, new technologies and networking skills need to be formatted, standardized, learned, updated, monitored, and well-managed,
To do this, a very positive environment for continuous learning and open sharing learning communities must be present. Such learners, researchers, and learning communities should work hand in hand with more and more helpful resource communities. However, the fact is, due to institutional creep—even at some high tech firms, like GOOGLE–was, great learning communities are often stymied by old-school-information thinking and management in environments that are often way-behind-the-curve in terms of gathering updated market and consumer needs and/or capabilities.
To combat this trend towards institutional creep, I suggest that high tech data analyses be preferred or used less in this world of learning–in lieu of a lot more personal interviewing and specific-consumer data gathering on emotions and other cognitive and user domains, i.e. where the social sciences used to be more high regarded. (Now, too many pseudo social science is being used and passed on via information systems courses than should be the case. Real training in social science methods would bring us further.)
Until information on users and potential users is gathered in a more personal and individual-specific manner, systems at any modern institution are going to be focused only on either (a) the beliefs of the lead opinion-makers in the community, (b) those who own the technology or (c) those who have the most financial an political clout..
COMING TO GRIPS
If management personnel, social scientists working with human resources personnel, and educators do not regain control and transform the current practices and reality-based theory of the paperless paradigm, any old sociologist can accurately predict where the project will be heading. That is, isolation and marginalization are already occurring at present and the problems will rise as those who cannot keep up with the paradigm of the age (and paperless platform changes, etc. , i.e. as defined and formulated by the largest and most influential opinion-makers and designers) will increasingly be seen throwing up their hands in dismay and getting quickly outsourced—They will simply have to accept even lower valued and lower paid work.

This is one reason that many Americans are out of long-term work today, i.e. the management paradigms are not people- and learning system friendly.

In no way am saying that the paperless paradigm should be thrown out the window. On the other hand, implementing new administrative paradigms institutionally requires more staff monitoring much more thoroughly the entire system in order to ward off all-kinds-of institutional creep—as well as the dangerous group think that dominates many institutions, especially public institutions, like universities and state departments today.

In my next three articles, I plan to take the narration and vignettes on one-of-the-dominant-management-paradigms of this age (and how it is playing in schools and universities around the world) by looking at examples on three countries: Kuwait, Germany and Taiwan. Later, I will return to the USA market and share a little bit more about the inter-connectedness of these developments, i.e. as the USA school and university system is currently a major export article of the USA in this information age.

NOTES

[1] Why the University of Kansas and Other Universities which try to GO PAPERLESS are making it hard for older and disabled students to study

http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/why-the-university-of-kansas-and-other-universities-which-try-to-go-paperless-are-making-it-hard-for-older-and-disabled-students-to-study/

By Kevin Stoda, still unable to enroll at KU due to many problems with so-called paperless campuses

Dear Chronicle of Higher Education and those Concerned with Bad Trend,
I am listening to the following discussion online about the benefits and deficits of universities going paperless over the past decade.

http://podcasts.fredonia.edu/node/11

This is a discussion entitled, “’The Paperless University: Myth or Reality” — panel discussion, 2-21-07”. [1] It was recorded at SUNY at Fredonia over 4 years ago and was done in podcast form initially. [2]

The object of my letter here is to focus on why the University of Kansas and Other Universities who attempt or try to GO PAPERLESS are, in many cases, making it very hard for older and disabled students to study. The main problem for us older and disabled students is caused by the fact that the university is trying to go paperless-to-the-extreme. In doing so, the best-rules and best-practices of multiple learning intelligences and styles are ignored in a variety of cases and the process does not allow for better over-all catering to individual students’ (personal) issues. For example, disabled and elderly students might have difficulty in sitting and learning the ins-and-outs of new technologies than other younger students. [3] (I won’t even mention in too much detail how much more often one has to print out material at home—i.e. so, that the paperless-university-on-campus becomes just as paper-heavy-as-ever—but at home because now the consumer, customer or student has to print out the data, forms, or readings in order to study the material for hours on end. )

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
I am a returning (but aging) student to the University of Kansas who suffers from a variety of health issues, including (1) adult attention deficit, (2) chronic fatigue syndrome, (3) fibromyalgia, (4) sleep apnea, (5) TMJ arthritis, and (6) suffer already 20 years from bad back and neck pain. These and other ailments have been diagnosed by physicians, experts, and university psychometric diagnostics over the recent decades. It is quite difficult for me to sit and carefully go over details online. Thank goodness that books and articles can be printed out! Alas, often things, like Graduate Student Handbooks are too big to print out, but are often impossible to get hold of in a timely manner. (Similarly, other materials, like next semester’s course offerings at KU are not easy to obtain in soft paperback print either—unless one is in Lawrence already and can drive and pick up that material on ones own..)

Despite all the aforementioned distracting physical issues and pains in my life , I have continued to teach full-time most of the past 26 years—and have done so in some 10 different countries around the world. Moreover, I should note, during the last four years, I have twice enrolled in online courses to renew my Kansas State Department of Education (grades 7-12) certification.

Naturally, in order for me to take these online courses through KU’s distance learning department, I had to have access to a computer and had to be trained by distance learning staff and help desks as (a) how to enroll online, (b) how to pay for my courses on-line, and (c) how to access a variety of online locations, downloads, visuals, and assignments. Early on, I often had contact staff online or via email for help when I had trouble accessing material for my course and assignments.

The first time I took a KU online course, I was taking the online course in Kuwait, where I taught middle school students. That was in 2008. The next time, in spring of 2010, I took another distance course online from KU while teaching adults and vocational training students in Germany.

NOTE: By the way, the enrollment process for independent study or distance courses at KU is relatively straightforward (streamlined) as compared to the rest of the paperless enrollment process that nearly 30,000 KU students have to face when they enroll at KU. In contrast, I also recall that in the old days at KU, enrollment through one’s own department each semester was much more straightforward than it is in 2011. http://www.continuinged.ku.edu/is/deadlines.php

APPLYING & ENROLLING FOR DOCTORATE WORK AT KU
Finally, last autumn 2010, I determined to apply and enter a doctoral program at the University of Kansas. I was eventually accepted for entrance in Spring 2011. Interestingly, due to my handicaps, I chose to apply by snail mail rather than applying online. (I could not fathom spending so many hours on such a long application process. I was too afraid of recommendation letters, transcripts, etc. getting lost.)

In late 2010, I had applied to the Education School at KU. My primary focus to be in curriculum & teaching with secondary the foci in (1) multicultural education and in (2) educational change/administration. I also expect to gain some knowledge about modern technologies and modern university administration.

On the one hand, as a well-rounded individual, I believe I have a tremendous amount to offer–as I have been busy over the decades in the USA and abroad teaching at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education (on three continents for a quarter of a century already and plan to do so for the next 3 decades). On the other hand, I believe that I still have so much to learn by going back to university. For example, I need to get up-to-date on the newest learning technologies, like how to use I-Pods. I certainly plan to train hard and study hard.

MY QUANDRY & KU HAS A BAD ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL PROCESS

Alas, since January of 2011, I have been unable to take classes at KU online because, the University of Kansas has developed bad-practices in terms of building a paperless school and by its bad-practices in not treating students as individuals with their own learning strengths and deficiencies. For this very reason, I was forced to un-enroll myself from my online class (on Philosophy of American Education) in February 2011, i.e. A hold was placed on my account by the KU Bursar because the university’s inflexible-paperless approach to communication, knowledge and service had developed no tolerance for individuality of its consumers.

NOTE: The current paperless approach leaves students spending fruitless hours emailing around to administrators, teachers, staff, and help-desks who sometimes send out form answers and demand that online forms be filled out. Likewise, simple things like enrollment dates and deadlines are often not so easy to find nor are they decipherable for new or returning students.

For example, because I gave up on Spring 2011 courses at KU (and the online course I had even paid for back in January), I am now trying to enroll in Summer II (July 2011) courses on the KU campus. I have recently looked for the online KU calendar for enrollment for Summer II. Alas, no such online calendar exists, specifically for July 2011 courses. (There is a combined all-purpose calendar for summer at KU. However, there is a lot of unnecessary and undecipherable material to be weeded through.

http://www.registrar.ku.edu/~registr/pdf/enrollment/calendar_date_4116.pdf

Meanwhile, I had looked in vain for specifically only the course offerings for Summer II.

Again there is only a single all-purpose calendar for all summer courses. https://classes.ku.edu/Classes/ExternalDisplay.action
In short, having a soft back copy of course listings would be easier for someone who has attention deficit to follow. However, KU has developed over the past 15 years a rather inflexible approach to troubled students (like me who already had filed in November 2010 at KU with the accessibility and disability office service or support). As a returning student I find this overwhelming amount of unhelpful info online at KU to be “U-find-it-U-decipher-it-Good-Luck approach.”

Is this the 21st century? And, if so, where are the knowledge skills being imparted to new students like me? In short, we with attention deficit can be too easily overwhelmed. ADD sufferers with bad back, bad neck pains, and chronic fatigue find it even harder to focus while perusing the KU websites.[4]

The whole point of serving students and enrolling them in a better or more efficient way is now being thrown out the window for me—one of many would-be older-returning students. In January, the one-size-fits-all-confusing-online enrollment system at KU charged me some 400 dollars for not being able to un-enroll in several classes by the university’s oblique deadline ( a deadline I had taken weeks to find online an only with technical help).

In short, the paperless university had blind-sided me and charged a 400 dollar penalty due to the inflexible-paperless approach of enrollment for non-distance learning courses at KU. It has since kept me from enrolling in Summer II 2011. The bursar or registrar is unforgiving in maintaining a hold on my account (to register).

NOTE: I had been planning to attend full-time and take classes at the Lawrence campus this Spring 2011, but family and financial considerations had forced me –in the period between Christmas 2010 and the end of January 2011–to try and switch my enrollment to simply a single online course. (My wife and child had both needed extra money for physical needs in 2011 than I had set aside for or felt like borrowing.)

BUZZWORD—PAPERLESS ENVIRONMENT

The un-enrolling process at KU form me in January 2011 was a nightmare for me online. (I did manage to enroll in one new course but I was blocked by the bursar’s office from taking that online course.) Believe me. KU’s paperless university was a horror for me in January 2011 and it cost me weeks of stress, emails, phone calls, and contacts to help desks, registrars, and the bursars. Worse still, I still have a hold on my account. Even though I have begged the Ombudsman and the disabilities office at KU to help the Bursar see the light—or at least to forgive me the penalties charged me in January.

In conclusion, in my case, the enrollment (and un-enrollment process or) regiment at KU is a student-adversarial system (especially since we are encouraged to enroll online and not in person) which appears to have been created by the out-of-control example of the modern paperless university, i.e. the University of Kansas.

As I listen to the I-pod panel discussion above on “The Paperless University: Myth or Reality”.

http://podcasts.fredonia.edu/node/11

several discussants point out that the onus falls fully on the paperless university for training 21st century students to be able to do research, learn, and cooperate with other scholars in a modern paperless academic setting.

I would say the same onus should fall on the university for the initial enrollment phases at the university. Nevertheless, the unforgiving bursar and registrar at KU still wants my money for taking no-class-at-all Spring 2011. Recognition of this basic fact of the university’s role or duty in training consumers is absolutely essential for the modern university to comprehend or internalize—paperless or not—i.e. in order to function and to serve society and its potential consumers, such as myself.

Yours,

Kevin Stoda
Ban Li Elementary School

NOTES

[1] “’The Paperless University: Myth or Reality” — panel discussion, 2-21-07”.

http://podcasts.fredonia.edu/node/11

[2] I do not yet have an I-Pod, so I still have never listened to a pod cast. I still need to be trained and have the money to afford the technology. However, as I have attention deficit, I will need someone with patience to teach me how to use it.

[3] One of the issues online discussed by the panelists in the Fredonia discussion is that many students feel distanced and depersonalized by overusing technologies, i.e. without clear justification.

[4] Below is the KU link on Institutional Rights and Responsibilities. http://www.disability.ku.edu/ I was planning to visit KU in late January and meet with the officials at the disability and access center at KU, but the Midwest suffered through 2 solid weeks of snow and ice. By that time, I had to leave Eastern Kansas to earn money for my household.

http://disability.ku.edu/~disability/students/rights_responsibilities.shtml

Section 504 of The 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 continues to provide direction and guidance to the University as it reaches new levels of access in all areas. As such, both the University and student have rights and responsibilities.
Institutional Rights and Responsibilities
The University of Kansas (KU) through Disability Resources has the right and responsibility to:
1. Maintain the University academic standards.
2. Request qualifying disability documentation in order to verify eligibility for disability accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids.
3. Discuss students’ eligibility with diagnosing professionals given signed consent.
4. Select from among equally effective/appropriate accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids in consultation with the student.
5. Deny requests for accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids when disability documentation does not identify a specific disability, fails to verify the need for the requested services, or is not provided in a timely manner.
6. Deny requests for accommodations, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aids that are inappropriate or unreasonable based on disability documentation including any that:
• Pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
• Constitute a substantial change or alteration of an essential course element/program standard, or
• Pose undue financial or administrative burden on the University.
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Every qualified student with a disability has the right to:
1. Equal access to educational and co-curricular programs, services, activities, and facilities available through KU.
2. Reasonable and effective accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids as determined on a case-by-case basis.
3. Maintain confidentiality regarding disability information including the right to choose to whom the disclosure of disability is made except as required by law.
4. Receive information in reasonably available in accessible formats. (i.e., meets request deadlines to ensure availability)
Every student with a disability has the responsibility to:
1. Meet KU’s qualifications including essential technical, academic, and institutional standards.
2. Identify as an individual with a disability and request accommodations in a timely manner.
3. Provide documentation from an appropriate professional source verifying the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the rationale for specific accommodations being recommended.
4. Follow specific procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids as outlined.

[2] KSDE– A semi-paperless institution that is understaffed and causing stress for elderly and disabled teachers

http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/ksde-a-semi-paperless-institution-that-is-understaffed-and-causing-stress-for-elderly-and-disabled-teachers/

In reference to the the Kansas State Department of Education: “YOUR PAPERLESS SERVICES ARE KILLING ANOTHER elder Kansan from overseas with disabilities FACING OFF WITH A PAPERLESS OFFICE”

EXPLANATION
This letter(from anonymous below) is now shared by Kevin Stoda, who had written about similar problems that elderly and handicapped Kansanas face in the wake of growingly intransigent PAPERLESS UNIVERSITIES in America. Mr. Stoda had condemned some paperless trends in America in his essay below to the Chronicle of Higher Education and the University of Kansas.[1] The author (anonymous below) feels that the KSDE operates similarly.

http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/why-the-university-of-kansas-and-other-universities-which-try-to-go-paperless-are-making-it-hard-for-older-and-disabled-students-to-study/

The anonymous writer (below) saw Mr. Stoda’s condemnation of the paperless administrative trends at another Kansas institution earlier this week on the internet.
The anonymous author then relayed this (now–edited) letter to Mr. Stoda.
Note: “Dear Mr. Stoda, you have the write to print the contents but not the names in this letter. I want your readers to know that you are not facing an isolated case. This hyper-focusedness on paperless institutions is leading to reckless irresponsibility, kind of like wikipedia.” –ANONYMOUS

Dear Kansas State Department of Education,

First of all, due to MY various disabilities etc. I have to ask that you at the KSDE review and vet how you have handled my renewal of state teaching certification. I feel that part of the roblem has been that the paperless goals of your institution are not realistic and are causing you and users undue stress.
This is likely the reason that, until now, I have not received a reply to my February appeal although I have in good faith spent nearly $2700 dollars trying to renew my Kansas Teaching Certification since 2008.

Second, please copy and forward this letter to all administrators at KSDE. (I have tried to find the new location of your KSDE emails yesterday before writing you but I had trouble finding the KSDE link–otherwise, I would have written the heads at KSDE all myself.) I have looked all over this web page and I can’t find all the staff addresses at KSDE.

http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=3571

Third, I wrote a letter to you all at KSDE on February 19 and have received no answer. Why was it not responded to?

In addition, I ask you now to read this letter from a “Mr. Kevin Stoda” to the University of Kansas (and the Chronicle of Higher Education). The letter clearly criticizes the paperless office trends in Kansas.–and I conclude that the KSDE paperless network does not serve many of us older or disabled peoples well.

http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/why-the-university-of-kansas-and-other-universities-which-try-to-go-paperless-are-making-it-hard-for-older-and-disabled-students-to-study/

Please, read that weblink above–and also pass it on to your policy teams and vetting committees. The author, Mr. Stoda, wrote his article with great physical pains –and due to my arthritis etc. I feel equally warn out and hurting as I type you. Both the KSDE and the University of Kansas seem to caus us older teachers the same stress.
For example, in my case, I had applied apply fully to your office and the KSDE in 2008 and 2009 to have my records and credentials in the KEEB online job search profile or data base. By 2010, a new platform was being used and I could no longer find my old data. I had to refill out all the forms in the new platform. Now, in 2011, another new job platfrom has apparently taken over at the KSDE—and I do not yet know how to update my old profile. This continually changin of platforms or weblinks is just not fair to an aging teaching candidate such as myself—nor is it fair to anyone else. Why do you keep changing these job sites? 9I have written emails asking for hel in accessing and reloading my credentials—to no avail.)

http://www.kansasteachingjobs.com/

Fourth, from the KSDE email below, it sounds like the KSDE paperless system is malfunctioning. Why have I never received a proper letter from the KSDE here in Asia, where I have worked for ten years? (You have had for 8 months my updated work address in the local elementary school.) I am sure that the delay is partially because your offices have become to dependent on paperless excuses—like disappearing documents and web pages. In summary, during the last 8 months, I have never received any of these messages (that you wrote below in a recent) here in China at my postal address.

Fifth and finally, at an additional cost of over 1500 dollars I flew to Kansas in January 2011in order to finally obtain the long-awaited hard-copy of my KSDE Teacher Certification. (I made sure that my finger prints were taken at a local police station. Then I mailed it off to the KBI as per your instructions with the necessary 50 dollar check.)
Now, it is April 2011—three years after I began my KSDE teacher renewal. Due to the terrible system that KSDE built up in recent decades, I do not foresee you getting my certification in my hands till the end of the year.

Yours,
Anonymous

p.s. I am also currently a bit homesick–but this paperless office of yours is not helping me–deleting my profile on your job search was was even more painful.

________________________________________
From: XXXX @ksde.org>
To: Anonymous
Sent: April XX 2011
Subject: KSDE Renewal
Dear Mr. Anonymous-RENEWAL Applicant,

There are two separate issues regarding your application. The first is that you submitted your original application on 07/16/2010. We are only able to hold onto an application up to six months before it has to be purged from our system. Your application was purged. You will need to reapply for the renewal of your license.

The second [ISSUE], KBI sent a notice back to us with the determination that the fingerprints you submitted were unreadable. They will need a new set of fingerprints. We kept your $50 fee, you will not need to pay this fee again but KBI will need another set of fingerprints. [2]You will need to submit a $39 fee for your application.[3]

According to a letter that you sent us, you may be planning to be back stateside this summer. [4]If this is the case, I recommend that you wait until you are back in the country to resubmit your application and fingerprints.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.[5]

XXXXXX, Licensure Consultant
Kansas State Department of Education
Teacher Education and Licensure
120 SE 10th Avenue, Topeka, KS, 66612

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