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Spreading Ideas From Students For Biodiversity Issues Rural 3.0 - Birdsaving Project Ideas


The Rural 3.0 project aims to research changes in rural areas and to develop and implement new learning and teaching methods. Using innovative digital media and methods, the eight participating countries will share their experiences and summarize a case study and a final report on the current state of Service-Learning in rural areas.

Course modules on rural Service-Learning, Social Entrepreneurship and digital collaboration and learning tools will be developed. A Service-Learning Hackathon will be organized.

The project is co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Our working group implements the power of art (according to John Dewey and Joseph Beuys) in this Service-Learning project in rural areas. Due to the Corona crisis the research alliance has furthermore become a Service E-Learning Project for biodiversity.

This paper discusses and describes strategies and ideas, how to set impulses to rural areas with Service-Learning. It also facilitates greater teaching and learning opportunities through innovative educational activities with artistic work in context to biodiversity and sustainability.




In the ´Rural 3.0 Service-Learning Project`, the changes in rural regions are to be researched, new learning and teaching methods developed and implemented.

Rural 3.0 is set as a knowledge alliances between different European Universities and rural partners, each with a different history, different experiences with rural social entrepreneurship and/ or rural Service Learning (SL), different educational systems and community needs, which are unique regarding the location, politics, and economics of different rural communities. Those participating members – 8 Universities- Higher Education Institutes/ HEIs and 8 Local Action Groups/ LAGs – will share their experiences and summarize a case study and a final report on the current state of Service-Learning Education in rural areas.

Those Partners are:

1. IPVC ESE (Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo – ESCOLA SUPERIOR DE EDUCAÇÃO), Portugal, Coordinator, https://www.ipvc.pt/escola-educacao

2. PH Wien (Pädagogische Hochschule Wien), Austria, https://phwien.ac.at/en

3. FFZG (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb), Croatia, https://web2020.ffzg.unizg.hr/international/

4. RSM (Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam School of Management), Netherlands, https://www.rsm.nl/

5. SCE (Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship GmbH, Munich University for Applied Sciences), Germany, https://www.sce.de/en/home.html

6. UAM (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Spain, https://www.uam.es/UAM/Home.htm?language=es

7. VMU (Vytautas Magnus University), Lithuania, https://www.vdu.lt/en/

8. AG5 (Local Action Group), Croatia, https://www.lag5.hr

9. LAG Ammersee (Local Action Group Ammersee), Germany, https://www.lagammersee.de/

10. LAG Kaunas (Local Action Group Kaunas), Lithuania, https://www.kaunorvvg.lt

11. LAG Galsinma (Local Action Group Galsinma), Spain, https://www.galsinma.org/

12. LAG AJD Local Action Group AJDeão), Portugal, www.associacaodeao.wix.com/ajdeao

13. SSA (Stichting Schutsluis Alblasserdam), Netherlands, https://www.schutsluisalblasserdam.nl/

14. Plenum (Gesellschaft für ganzheitlich nachhaltige Entwicklung GmbH), Austria, https:// www.plenum.at

15. UniBO (University of Bologna,) Italy, https://www.unibo.it/en/homepage

16. LAG L’Altra Romagna (Local Action Group L’Altra Romagna), Italy. https://www.altraromagna.it/en/the-group/

A knowledge alliance of various European higher education institutions and partners in rural areas aims to develop a common theme, namely changes in rural communities. This will provide a report on the needs of the main target groups as well as a case study and a final report on the current state of service-learning education in rural areas. A module with training programmes on rural service-learning education/social entrepreneurship as a digital collaboration and learning tool and a service-learning hackathon will form the results of the project. The aim is to exchange experiences and research together, to develop a new way of learning and to strengthen the network between universities and local communities.

Current Problem Situation and Perspective

Main problem what Rural communities have (that make up over 90% of the territory of the EU and are home to more than 56% of the population) are the limited opportunities for establishing strong university-community networks. Problems of rural areas are focused on educational, social and cultural conditions or environmental problems. As a result, the labour force is affected by a lack of structure, diversity and capabilities, caused by the emigration of young people - those with appropriate skills and a high level of education. Previous research has concentrated mainly on economic and political issues in urban areas. There is furthermore no link between the academic context and rural communities.

In the first part of the paper we would like to introduce the readers to the concept of Service-Learning as a teaching method and show the current state of research. Afterwards we would like to go into the situation in Austria regarding the ´Third Mission` and present our part of the EU project Rural 3.0. Subsequently we will discuss the power of art (supported by Joseph Beuys and his ´Social Plastic`) in relation to Service-Learning and give a concrete example of a biodiversity project. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the project has also dealt with digital strategies (Service E-Education).

This paper shows a short outline of the project and possibilities to use certain methods for creative projects.

At the end of the paper we discuss key elements of methodological developments of the EU project such as the Online World Cafe and MOOCs.


Service-Learning is a teaching method that connects the goals of higher education with the needs of society through students´ active participation in structured cooperative activities that address community needs. (Bringle, 1996)

The term is also known in Keywords such as 'Civic Education' or 'Learning through Engagement' or 'Civic Learning'. By subtle differences they mean a university/teaching concept to promote social responsibility and enable self-efficacy experiences in the context of university/academic education. The concepts are understood as a contribution to the promotion of and participation in a democratic society. Responsible and active citizens not only have “manifold individual rights, but also social obligations to participate” (Jaeger et al., 2009, p.35). [All translations from English into German by the authors.]

In educational theory, the demand for social commitment and responsibility in educational institutions is not new. Service learning has its origins in the educational pragmatism of John Dewey (Sporer, 2011, p.70f.).

The social philosopher Dewey, an important pioneer of modern pedagogy, is regarded as the mastermind of action and experience-oriented ´pragmatic learning` (Laven, 2006, p.145f.). According to Dewey's theories, which were based on the principles of development and growth, learning arises “from (the) experience of challenge and how to meet it. Following the solution of a difficulty, a reflection of the process takes place so that what has been learned can be generalized and reused” (Metzger, 1962, p.12). Experience is perceived as a ´learning place of education`: “Mere activity does not constitute experience. It is dispersive, centrifugal, dissipating. Experience as trying involves change, but change is meaningless transition unless it is consciously connected with the return wave of consequences which flow from it. […] We learn something. It is not experience when a child merely sticks his finger into a flame; it is experience when the movement is connected with the pain which he undergoes in consequence” (Dewey, 1968, p.139f).

Dewey developed an action- and process-oriented learning approach, because he believed that natural situational participation fundamentally dominated adolescents (Dewey, 1968, p.39) His childcentered project method meant an education in democracy. “For Dewey, democracy equals living a fulfilled life, so changing school means first of all that employment there should be fun” (Laven, 2006, p.145). A learning programme oriented in this way encourages participants to use the knowledge acquired in class to strengthen local communities and also to learn and develop professional and interpersonal skills and critical thinking (Eyler, Giles, Stenson, Gray, 2003, p.15-19).


We started by investigating about Service-Learning concepts and structures in Austria for Service-Learning. Under the catchwords of ´Service-Learning` and ´Third Mission`, Austria's higher education landscape is also increasingly concerned with the question of social responsibility and the shaping of tertiary education (see also this compilation of materials relating to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals). Service-Learning refers to the combination of academic teaching and civic engagement. In doing so, there is a real benefit for civil society and university teaching gains practical and experiential orientation (Campus vor Ort, 2017).

Service-Learning or ´education through responsibility` is a form of university learning that is still relatively uncommon in German-speaking countries, like Austria, where students engage in voluntary projects with and for non-profit organizations and at the same time integrate this project work into their studies. In particular, the goal of this is to increase awareness of the assumption of civic responsibility both for the students and for the university as an organization. The integration of the projects into the study again requires innovative didactic approaches, from the implementation at the own university over the integration into the curricula, from didactic accompanying arrangements up to questions of the performance appraisal. Professional reflection is an essential element, which in turn represents a good bridge to teacher education.

The Vienna University College of Education in Vienna contributed to the Third Mission with the module ´Service Learning` with 5 ECTS in primary education in the study focus ´Science & Health`.

In the study focus ´Creativity`, where this module does not exist, we dock on a course called ‘ Final Project Creativity’ and try to interweave social responsibility with artistic projects.


Rural 3.0 is set as a knowledge alliance between different European Universities and rural partners, each with a different history, different experiences with rural social entrepreneurship and/ or rural Service-Learning, different educational systems and community needs, which are unique regarding the location, politics, and economics of different rural communities.

The Rural 3.0 Project intends to bring HEIs and rural partners together to work on a common issue to design, implement and evaluate a transnational curriculum based on the innovative Service-Learning approach and to stimulate Social Entrepreneurship of HEIs teaching staff and rural entities.

As main objectives we try to:

(i) Help to develop the core skills and entrepreneurial capabilities of the rural community (for which such development is not easily accessible)

(ii) Improve the quality of education for a sustainable development and promote universitycommunity partnerships in the rural areas through the innovative SL methodology

(iii) Increase the relevance of universities as their students aim to fulfil a service that is in line with the demands of the rural businesses and social needs in rural areas

(iv) Establish a virtual Hub with a broad network of academic and rural stakeholders that will offer teaching and learning content and will promote interactions between universities and rural community stakeholders

Methodology: Eight working packages will be developed throughout the three years, evolving and reflecting results from a previous project entitled “Europe Engage” https://www.eoslhe.eu/europe-engage/.

We believe that building on the methodology of Europe Engage Project and adapting it to the rural context will lead to success.

HEIs will develop new innovative courses and enlarge their network of community partners for SL projects, improving their capacity to provide useful services to address the needs of communities.

The rural associations/organizations (LAGs) and rural actors should benefit from the students’ services. Main progress markers are:


Rural database

Development of MOOCs online World Cafe

SL Rural 3.0 Hub


Social development makes it necessary for educational institutions such as universities/schools to respond to this. We would like to provide this context or this answer through artistic Empowerment.

“Empowerment is manifest thru brave acts, acts of the heart, acts of kindness, acts that illuminate humanity” (St Thomas, 2007, p.25)

“The widening awareness of the heterogeneity of learning conditions calls for respectful attitudes and appropriate responses towards these various forms. This can be further supported through the concept of ´empowerment`, the notion of which is presented in the context of an inclusive aesthetic-artistic workshop. The concept of empowerment refers to specific, processbased forms of action and support that explicitly build upon the aptitudes and potentialities of the students. This entails a visualization of the resources so that participants may overcome any shortfalls in their focus. Empowerment, in particular, is conducive to developing personal strategies, skills, and resources, as well as acquiring new skills and knowledge. This perspective is an encouragement and extension of the subject’s self-reliance and self-determination that focuses on open-minded processes supporting exploration and discovery” (Laven, 2018, p.1).

Empowerment can be helpful in undertaking this challenging task as it aims to “contribute to a resource-oriented view, in addition to developing other perspectives on existing problems” (Pankofer, 2000, p.221). The individual, self-assessing experiences made possible in the context of inclusive workshop instruction can instigate progress that moves away from the “housing of dependence and paternalism” (Herriger, 2014, p.16). The empowerment perspective can therefore be understood as an opposing force against passivity in favor of total group participation. Such a concept should be approached through creative means that respond to the needs of the framework conditions; the resulting synergies need only be recognized and appreciated.

By combining Service-Learning and Arts, those acts can take place and the statement of reasons is supported by statements from Joseph Beuys. Beuys calls for the creativity and active participation of all people in order to transform and improve the social community.

Art has the power to produce this social environment and is good for multi-perspective consideration of diversity approaches.

Excursus: Joseph Beuys and the Social Plastic

„Every human being is born an artist“ (Laven, 2006, p. 251-255)

Joseph Beuys is considered the most influential German-speaking artist of the post-war period, a visionary who placed art in the service of shaping ´direct democracy`. He had a decisive influence on pedagogy and was a revolutionary pioneer of artistic intervention in the field of education. He shaped the conviction of the reformation potential of art for society. He saw the pedagogical work as an artistic act and, with an expanded, anthropologically oriented concept of art, assigned creative abilities to each person, which in his opinion resulted from the history of human development. J. Beuys (1989, p.25): “The relationship between students and teachers is a mutual contract […] the organs of experience have already died off for many There should be build up terms, which connect to this state of consciousness, in order to talk about quite other relations of forces […] And this requires the aesthetic education of humans. The isolated art education must be abolished. The artistic element must be generally carried into all subjects […] But this process of education should not be authoritarian, it should be oscillating between people, so that one can say: language itself is the teacher. In other words, the moment I speak, I am the teacher for a moment. And where I listen, I am the student“ (ibid.).

Beuys aimed to restructure the concepts of education, law and economics by means of the ´expanded concept of art`. Starting out from this concept of art (´Every human being is an artist`), Beuys cited the development of the human being into a free individual as a prerequisite for a change in society. He wanted to grant this free, individual positioning to students. “From this position he can work out something for the part where he is in dependence and bondage with other people” (Stachelhaus, 1989, p.189).

In view of the marginal existence of contemporary art, he was urged “to make breakthroughs from this niche”, and thus found his concept of art, which “refers to the human being, to all human beings as a matter of course“ (Stachelhaus, 1989, p.197) Beuys´ goal was to “do (something) for the present and for the future, something universally valid”. His works were to be “a knocking on walls, a knocking on the imprisonment in our civilizing cultural consciousness” (Beuys 1989, p.52). Beuys was of the opinion that art could not be reduced to a kind of high-performance artistry by a few brilliant individuals, but that it had to permeate all areas of social coexistence. ´Social sculpture`, the concept of living together in social space that he coined, is his idea of true democracy. He symbolized and lived an artistic life that was best realized in the role of the teacher. Teaching as a process was the centre of his ´expanded concept of art`. Beuys did not regard himself as a master, but grasped his role as a colleague, as someone who listens, observes and is available with advice. Child and adult are equal and take part in a mutual learning process. Joseph Beuys succeeded in further developing these ideas and in penetrating and polarizing society with the help of all the media available at the time. The movement was a central element of his art education. It is about the creation of this lively, mutually changing movement between teachers and students. The task of every human being was to activate his creativity, which had been buried by the primacy of reason. This ´expanded concept of art` defines art as a self-determined, creative practice of life.

“Beuys: To be student and teacher at the same time. That means just being naked as one is. With all abilities and also with all inabilities. […] This can also be a child!“ (Altenberg, 1983, p.17f.) and he appeals: “Schools must become educational institutions in a new sense“ (Stachelhaus, 1998, p.106). Because of his charismatic personality, Beuys was seen by students as an intensive, strict teacher. As one who looked closely, who encouraged independent action and confidence in his own abilities, but also provocation and confrontation. Nevertheless, he saw himself as a catalyst, as the creator of these plastic processes. ´Thinking is plastic`, propagate Beuys (Filiou, 1970, p.163). Plastic is the origin of all becoming in the three-step from chaos to movement to form. Beuys' concept of 'social sculpture' became the artistic term at the end of the 20th century:

„I maintain that this term is a completely new category of art. The new muse appears opposite the old one […]. She carries the future concept of plastic, which takes precedence over any other concept of plastic. So, I even shout: there won't be any usable plastic left on this earth if this social organism as a living being is not there. This is the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, in which every human being is an artist” (Beuys, 1984, p.791).

This is why you will find here influences on Service Learning at Joseph Beuys.

Service-Learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants (Reinders, 2016, p.24). Diversity is therefore one approach to service-Learning and linked with the art and culture it provides Cultural diversity – in a global and European perspective. However, around the same time sociologists and political scientists observed an increasing worldwide “clash of cultures” […]. This was understood to be brought about by the process of globalization, with a particularly strong role of media and telecommunications that bridge the local and global (Barber 1996; Jameson & Miyoshi 1998; Inda & Rosaldo 2002).

This cultural dimension, this ´clash of cultures` (Huntington, 2015) or as described in the visual and art sciences as the "iconic turn" (Boehm, 1994, p.11-38), can better be questioned through the individual aesthetic/artistic discussion. About two years before the European turn to the image, Mitchel was already propagating the 'pictorial turn', which founded the Picture Theory, the Sciences of Images in a global, digital and every-day aesthetic way (Mitchell, 1994).

Concurrently, arts participation is falling among younger adults and with it most forms of civic and social engagement (National Endowment for the Arts. 2009, p.1).

In Service-Learning as in many other areas, the role of art is poorly understood. The present work therefore aims to provide an initial conceptual reflection. The overarching question is that of the possible link between art and Service-Learning. Based on the hypothesis that art is changing the potential for Service-Learning, the paper initially aims to investigate which cultural approaches and potentials associate art with Service-Learning. Secondly, the paper examines how these approaches and potentials can be put into practice; based on an art project and a book.

Art turns directly on the world screw - it is not about ´l' art pour l' art`, as Wolfgang Welsch describes East Asian Art (Welsch, 2016, p.18).

This quotation stands for an aesthetic experience of the world, not only the East Asian art, which makes its contribution to the field of Service-Learning.


More concretely, the implementation of the project was implemented in a course of the creative branch of the Vienna University of Education. In the course ´Final Project Creativity`, many project partners from Lower Austria and the region were involved.

In order to better illuminate the aspect of biodiversity we cooperated with the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna. The Master students of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna were able to contribute their expertise in the fields of landscape planning, biodiversity, biology, landscaping and birds to the projects. Explicitly, a bird conservation project was the subject of the project.

The room was prepared for aesthetic experience with sunflower seeds, birds, projections to represent the bird project.

In order to better network the students and to initiate the artistic project ideas, the ´Empowerment Bingo-Method` was used in the course: ´Empowerment Bingo` - is a bingo game where numbers are dealt on entry and then drawn. You get chocolate and a partner student from the other university. Methods have been adapted, basically the following methods have been used and have been very supportive in the creative development of artistic project ideas: 6 Hats, Stimulating Picture Method (with art postcards and other stimulating postcards), Ecriture automatique, Morphological Box, Contrast Inversion, Kaleidoscope, ABC Lists, Starbursting, Walt Disney Method, Elevator Pitch. The practical work on site was stopped by Corona. Ideas that were created with the above-mentioned methods have to be changed remotely. After uncertainty about the duration of the contact block by Corona, the ideas will be kept more general and will be revised as a kind of didactic concepts supra-regional, i.e. more generally valid and not related to the planned location. This is to be a publication in a kind of compendium of artistic project ideas for rural communities on the subject of bird conservation.


Time of COVID-19 Pandemia. Distance and Homeschooling in fine art projects? How should something like that get together? We need to switch to Service E-learning and were looking for digital strategies through the Corona time.

Furthermore, Service e-Learning, a special kind of Service-Learning, additionally recognizes the emerging role of technology in shaping student participation in the community and provides a quality experience while meeting the needs of multiple participants from multiple backgrounds, giving them the ability to make connections across the disciplines (Eyler, Giles, Stenson, Gray, 2003, p.15-19).

The personal contact is missing, but perhaps the following media-theoretical reflection offers a possibility of physical ´flying` or immersion in the artistic world.

Schroer writes that the experience of virtual space should by no means be understood as purely imaginary. „By no means can a person only dream of going to another place. Rather, in a certain sense, they are really somewhere else, while at the same time they are here, almost in the sense of a bilocality“ (Schroer, 2006, p.263).

Especially in times of social distancing a noticeable moving together is worth a lot. Communication via a platform called Slack proved to be a good way of distributing information, and a tool called ´Airtable` was used to collect information. In addition, Zoom was used as a communication space.


Based on the results of from previous surveys of our partner universities and especially local action groups we provided a methodology of an Online World Café that can be used by university teachers and rural community partners to design, host and harvest World Café events in the rural sector. Participants will be able to search the Hub for potential collaborators or projects, bring their expertise to an existing project, browse the repository of best practices and experts and engage in Online Learning by MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and World Café (Open Educational Resources, OERs).

The main indication of needs of the students is to gain important competences: motivation and perseverance, creativity, planning and management, learning trough experience, ethical and sustainable thinking, social behaviour.

To indicate these requirements the Online World Café was made in a creative way.

A café is a good and useful setting for meaningful conversation. The World Café method was conceptualized by Brown & Isaacs (1995).

The world café is a structured and creative conversational process intended to facilitate open and cooperative discussion and knowledge sharing, and link ideas within a larger group to access collective intelligence in the room. In this technique the focus is on exploring and innovating on themes rather than on problem-solving (Bache, 2008).

According to Kempnich & Costanzo (2014), the World Café format offers a way for the creative process to emerge and give depth to participants' responses, as a structured methodology for dialogue and conversation among them, which includes an important assumption: that participants already have same experience and knowledge in their minds, as a kind of tacit knowledge (Torres, 2018).

The methodology presents seven fundamental principles: Establish the context, Create a welcoming space, Explore meaningful issues, Stimulate the contribution of all, Promote crosspollination and connect different points of view, Listen together to discover patterns, perceptions and deeper issues, Collect and share collective discoveries (Torres, 2018).

Blended World Café and first steps

To innovate the character of the World Café and do some experimental steps a new Blended Method (between virtual and real-life meeting) was tested out – Blended World Cafe with real ´post its` sheets on a pin wall and the tool ´note.ly` for digital version of the post-its. Also, for getting attention and a word cloud feedback Menti(meter).com was very useful.

Methodology of Online World Café

Only in a few literatures it is possible to find something about Online World Café. Ferguson-Patrick & Jolliffe (2018) describe that world café can occur in either an online or face to face situation. The Online World Café should be a space where dialogue is to occur, hospitable, safe and inviting and encourage everyone’s participation and ideas. Graphic recording during the event helps to bridge the world of visual thinking and the World Café. With the use of Padlet, an online bulletin board is possible to display information of any topic, and to document the visual thinking of the World Café exploration. The method of professional learning suits itself well to cooperative learning where listening and accepting other’s viewpoints is part of the democratic feel (Ferguson-Patrick & Jolliffe, 2018, p.151).

It should have a clear design, simple procedures without login, because many problems already occur here, which cause fears. For this reason, it’s possible to choose Zoom with the help of another software.

Technically in this project we use the video chat software Zoom with ´Webinar Addon` or as alternative with ´padlet.com` and for question prompt the ´open text questions function`. The chat will be used for help questions or conversations, discussions by video/audio) or to set weblinks for information (e.g. for note.ly – without registration for participants – this simplicity is important for the user experience). ´Note.ly` or tools like ´AWWAPP.com` ´Webwhiteboard.com` are good for ´Breakout Sessions` with smaller groups (in a better visual design way like painting and writing on the tablecloth).

In order to visual thinking a Graphic recording during the event helps to bridge the world of visual thinking and the World Café, maybe with ´Padlet.com` or other ´Webwhiteboards.com`.

For Database Collection a recommended tool is ´Airtable.com`, where it’s easy to share links.


Massive open online courses are also part of this project, they are designed to teach students the concepts of how to work artistic and with artistic research methods for biodiversity issues (birdsaving-project). Students will learn about different art topics such as concepts of different artists, artistic research, biodiversity and art, graphic design, fine arts, applied arts, textiles, music and performance: different art techniques. Art is designed to motivate students to take their life seriously, reflect their lives and use it for social and world change. This course will help students understand why they should make artistic projects and how they can change world sight. These Courses will use Moodle.

During the course, students will develop strategies for creating artistic projects in connection with biodiversity.

At the end of the Course, students will be able to use Service-Learning as method to do with social engagement artistic projects and use creative methods, demonstrate and document their artist works, collaborate in artistic projects, have learned how to do project management, have some professional skills, including careful design work, skillful use of materials and construction techniques. know about biodiversity issues and birds, Art activism and dimensions of art and environment.


The combination of Service-Learning and Third Mission activities with the power of art is capable of creating impressive solutions.

Rural 3.0 is an international example for working for changes in rural areas and to develop and implement new learning and teaching methods.

These digital learning tools have new qualities that can be used very well in times of COVID 19 and times of social distancing.

Creativity Methods and Methodology of Online World Café are new approaches and experiments to test out the possibilities for specifically rural areas. We gave concrete examples of a biodiversity project and will work it out in a book publication for rural areas.

Ultimately, a merge between scientific approaches from the fields of Art, Art Education and Service-Learning are the goal.

Artistic projects are an impressive example that everyone can make a contribution, in the sense of the "Gesamtkunstwerk". This concept has been redesigned for contribution to the promotion of and participation in a democratic society, and the background of educational theory.

This text was already published in an international peer reviewed paper.


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