University Series 017 | Florida Tech

Join Operant Innovations as we talk with Dr. Nic Weatherly about the multiple program options at Florida Tech.

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Shauna Costello (00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies this week on the university series. We're talking with Dr. Nick Weatherly from Florida tech. Dr. Weatherly is the head of the school of behavior analysis and associate professor. His expertise is in developing and providing efficient training and leadership solutions designed to maximize performance and create sustainable impact. Prior to joining Florida Tech, Dr. Weatherly was a management consultant with Aubrey Daniels international, where he led their instructional systems projects and consulted in numerous areas of business and industry, including manufacturing, energy, thanking health insurance, and clinical services. His areas of teaching research and practice focused on developing sustainable business solutions, coaching systems, organizational assessments, and training systems. He is also the co-author of the book, deliberate coaching, a toolbox for accelerating teacher performance. So please welcome Dr. Nick Weatherly. We're here with Dr. Nick Weatherly. Thank you for joining us.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (01:09):

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Shauna Costello (01:10):

And we are going to talk about the Florida tech's multiple opportunities that they have for students. So first off why don't you just give an overview of the program.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (01:22):

We're about 20 years old. It's about 20 years ago is when we first started offering a behavior analytic courses here. Um, Florida tech offers, uh, an undergraduate in applied behavior analysis. Um, uh, we offer, um, two, uh, uh, well, technically three certificate programs. We offer a, a BCABA certificate program, a BCBA certificate program, an OBM certificate. Um, we have, uh, three masters programs that are on campus. Uh, we have a, uh, program that is, uh, essentially a clinical behavior analysis program or, uh, ABA program, a, um, an OBM program, organizational theory management. And then we offer a joint degree in both. Um, and then we have a, um, uh, behavior analysis program that's also in our Orlando campus. Um, the other programs I mentioned are in our Melbourne, Florida campus, and then we have a PhD program in behavior analysis that takes, uh, everything from, uh, EAB students, OBM students, uh, clinical students, you name it and, uh, across a number of areas. And then, um, and then we have an online masters program, so in a professional behavior analysis,

Shauna Costello (02:54):

And what are some of the cause that's, I mean, that's a lot. So are there differences between like the Orlando program and the Melbourne program? Um, there's of course going to be differences with the online program. Um, but what are some of the differences between the programs?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (03:11):

Yeah, good question. So the, um, the Orlando program is designed, uh, comparably to the, uh, to the online program. The Orlando program is designed for students who our, uh, our, uh, are working full time, primarily. Um, the classes are tailored around their schedule, so that way they go to our, our Orlando campus on Fridays and Saturdays. So as students who are working, uh, working full time, but want a, um, a, an on-campus learning experience that, um, uh, that will accommodate their work schedule. Um, and then other than that, it's, um, uh, pretty close to the same as our Melbourne based campus programs. Um, the, uh, the online program is set up, uh, similarly, but for students that might have more constraints, um, and it helps us, uh, expand globally. Um, our online program is primarily in other States and across the, the world, uh, to accommodate a similar target, uh, student base of people who might have more experience in the field, they're working, they have families and they can't move to Melbourne.

Shauna Costello (04:27):

And what are for the, for the on campus program, um, who are some of the faculty?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (04:33):

Yes, so we have, uh, Dr. Dave welder, um, that is the chair of our on campus, uh, programs. Um, we have dr. Celeste Harvey who is here on campus. Um, we have dr. Katie Nicholson, who is here on campus, uh, doing skill acquisition work. Dr. Harvey does, um, a lot of work in gerontology. Uh, we have dr. Rachel Tilka, who is, uh, here doing organizational behavior management work. And then we, um, work heavily with the Scott center and, uh, part of the management of that Scott center for autism treatment. Um, part of the management of that is, uh, Andrew Hoover's, uh, who, uh, is our director of experiential training. And he manages all of our practicum systems here. And then we have dr. Kim Sloman over at the Scott center, also works heavily with us.

Shauna Costello (05:26):

And yourself, don't forget about yourself.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (05:28):

And myself and, uh, dr. Martinez Diaz, um, uh, teaches with us as well. He teaches our conceptual classes and our ethics classes. So he's still here on campus.

Shauna Costello (05:39):

That's great. And, um, I know you mentioned slightly some of the research or some of their faculty interests, um, but what are some of the research projects going on?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (05:51):

Yeah, we're uh, it's something that, uh, I take a lot of pride in at Florida tech as head of school that we have, uh, you know, a nice variety of, of interests and projects. Um, we have, um, everything from we're, uh, building a, a fish lab for Dr. Casado to do his, um, his EAB research. Um, we have a lot of research that's done at the, uh, the Scott center, um, on, uh, you know, just a Ray of, uh, skill acquisition, social skill, and problem behavior reduction. You, you name it, oral behavior, uh, areas. Um, we have, uh, dr. Harvey who does work in gerontology, um, uh, dr. Tilka, uh, does work in performance management. And, um, and then I, uh, do a lot of work and, uh, behavioral leadership and ethics in coaching. So we're all over the place.

Shauna Costello (06:47):

Yeah. And I know that I've got to see, um, dr. Nicholson talk at one of the local chapter events, and it's really cool to kind of see what her and her students are doing, kind of testing out well known procedures to see if they're actually the best option. And I kind of called her a MythBuster, like, so that was kind of, that was really neat.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (07:14):

Yeah, I like that. That's, uh, one of the benefits of our relationship with the Scott center is that we get to have a big focus on, uh, researching and developing tools that, um, that, um, we, that we see that there's a need for, because we have our treatment center here, um, uh, in, uh, dr. Wilder has done research extensively in those areas for decades, uh, and is our, uh, leader in performance diagnostics. Um, so he's still very heavily active in, um, OBM and in helping us with our, uh, clinical service research.

Shauna Costello (07:52):

And, um, I know you mentioned the Scott center for practicum for, I know just from being around that Scott center is a big practicum site for the, for the program. Um, but you mentioned that, you know, there's ABA, ABA and OBM, and then OBM, so what are some of the other types of opportunities and practicum opportunities and experiences that students are getting?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (08:19):

Uh, yes. So, um, another thing that is, um, important to us here is that we, uh, we do have a strong, uh, OBM program here. Um, so, uh, we with the new board requirements, um, that are going to expand our, uh, practicum hours from the intensive, uh, 750 to 1500, um, hours, um, we, it gives us an opportunity to offer even a, a wider array of practicum experiences for our students right now, our students, uh, most of our students who are doing practicum work, um, are, uh, they're only required to do three semesters of practicum that gets all of their intensive hours. So, um, students who are interested in early intervention do, uh, at least start at the Scott center, that's our controlled training ground, um, that we work really hard to make sure that we can get students the direct and indirect, uh, experience that they need, um, uh, with early intervention.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (09:28):

And then, um, the faculty led by Dr. Wilder works hard to ensure that if there are sites that want to be affiliated with Florida tech, but they, um, and they serve a different population, they serve a need, you know, we work, actively to find those opportunities for our students. So if a students wants experience with a different population or a different age group, or a different type of system or so to so forth, um, we have a lot of local clinics. We work with the school district. We have local organizations we work with, um, uh, we're starting to, uh, we have, we're having discussions with the space center at NASA about work there. We have some, uh, some remote organizations who do OBM work. We have some, uh, local, uh, there's a local entrepreneur, uh, organization affiliated with Florida tech called we venture that works with, um, uh, uh, local, uh, small and large businesses that we have begun to work with to establish, to even expand our, uh, mainly our, our OBM partnerships and OBM practicum sites, but we've worked with hospitals and, you know, you name it around here just to make sure we have the right experience.

Shauna Costello (10:45):

And I know that ABA tech that we get to have some of the IPT students for OBM as well. And, um, I love having them, um, I have the pleasure of, I had the pleasure of supervising them and they are phenomenal. So it's really cool to hear about some of the other potential opportunities that they get to have to,

Dr. Nick Weatherly (11:08):

Yeah, ABA Tech is a great site for us because it allows students to get, um, uh, OBM experience with some of the experience OBM-ers you have over there. Uh, and, uh, and also allows them to get instructional design experience because you run an instructional design company. So, um, there's just a lot of benefits that we get, uh, having the partnership with ABA tech.

Shauna Costello (11:28):

Yup. And a lot of that we actually just met and a lot of that's going to be happening next semester as well with the whole redesign of the fifth edition stuff. So, and test prep products and everything like that. So they're going to have, they're going to have lots of work to do next semester. Um, but no, they've been wonderful. Um, and so what about the types of interview processes that guys have for the different programs like the, on campus, Orlando, online? What is that process for to get in?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (12:03):

Yeah, they vary across programs, but in general, I'll explain what, um, what are our program looks like? So our online program in our certificate program has a rolling admissions, so people apply every semester. Um, and then they have to submit the, you know, standard documents in terms of their letters, recommendations and so on and so forth that are reviewed. Um, the, uh, the on campus programs are the same, um, except that, uh, we do, uh, we do often meet with the students for the, uh, you know, the on campus programs, particularly, particularly the doc students who are coming to the campus for meetings. We, um, the master's level students, we have a rubric that we use to, uh, objectively score the students based on everything that they sent their objectives, the experience in the field courses, they've taken things that they've published or presented you name it, their letters of recommendation.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (13:07):

Um, uh, we go through and review them, uh, dr. Wilder, uh, will, um, uh, be as the, kind of the conduit between the faculty and the students, um, the applicants, and it's a comparable process to the, for the doctoral students, except, uh, we have a mentor model for our doctoral students, so they are applying to work with a certain person. Um, and so we interview them. Uh, so we, we, we rank them based on their, uh, their objective scores with their application. And then, uh, they get interviewed by a handful of faculty, including the one that they have marked out as their primary advisor that they're interested in. And, uh, that, uh, the doctoral students get selected to work directly under the advisement of that faculty member. Our master's students, um, all get advisors as well, but they might change, um, uh, the advisors might change based on, uh, where they, uh, if they choose a thesis option, their advisor might change because they might change to a different thesis advisor. So, but in a nutshell, that's our process.

Shauna Costello (14:16):

And that's something to mention too, is that there are different, there are a couple of different tracks that students can go on. There's a thesis track and then a capstone track.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (14:26):

Yes. Yeah. So our students are, um, our, uh, Orlando students and our online students do capstone projects, which are, um, uh, kind of evaluation projects and then our, uh, our, uh, Melbourne based students. Um, and they, they have to take, uh, a final, uh, program exam and our Melbourne based students take a final program exam and they take, um, they have the option of either a capstone or a thesis. Um, so they have some flexibility there.

Shauna Costello (14:57):

And I know that I've got to supervise some of the capstone projects and it's, it's really neat, um, because we, yeah, the, the, a couple projects that I've seen have been really cool cause they can really make it their own. And, um, it ends up being beneficial for the company as well. But, um, no it's really neat seeing and watching them work through their project. Um, I've, I know I've been on the other side of it. So to be on the supervising side of it is really neat. It's really, really neat.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (15:31):

I think it's a good process and it's nice because, uh, you know, they're, um, you know, typically applied projects at a site. So that means that we can have some sort of hopefully sustainable impact on the sites where the students are currently working and with the online, uh, program. Um, that means that we have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of applied projects going on at various sites around the world, which is, uh, which is exciting.

Shauna Costello (16:02):

And, um, yeah, it's, it's really exciting. Um, so what else about Florida tech makes it? I know it's, it's a very big name in the field. It's very well known. Um, what, why Florida tech though?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (16:16):

Um, yeah, that's a good question. I think, um, you know, across all of our programs, I think each of them offers a unique experience. You know, we have, um, we have a high level doctoral faculty that work in, um, our, uh, our online program with, uh, you know, Dr. Myers-Kemp, uh, that, that runs it with our partnership with ABA tech and, uh, Brian Neff and Marilyn clone. We have just a lot of people, uh, that work at all facets of our program that are, um, very passionate about what they do. Um, and then we offer, um, a lot of flexibility with our online options and on-campus options, our Orlando program option. So essentially there's whatever, whatever path you're on Florida tech offers an option for you, uh, whether you're in the state, in the area or in another area, whether you're working, whether you're not, whether you've been in the field for a long time, whether you haven't.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (17:15):

I mean, there's just a, a path for everybody. Um, given our faculty expertise here on campus, ranging from, um, you know, EAB, uh, through geriatrics from various areas of clinical applications, various areas of business and OBM applications, um, regardless of your area of interest, we have somebody, uh, that, uh, most likely has, uh, has a line of research and projects in that, uh, in that area. Um, dr. Martinez-Diaz, uh, has worked hard for these past 20 years building the programs that we have and the relationships that we have, uh, dr. Wilder has been here almost the whole time, um, and, uh, is just a, um, uh, it's, uh, they're, they're both really good mentors, really good program developers, and we're always constantly looking to, uh, evaluate and continuously improve our program. We have high pass rates, our students, uh, uh, uh, do very well on the BACB exam.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (18:22):

We have, uh, we have exceptional job placement. Our students get good jobs and get the job they want, and they get good, they get paid good money. And some of the things that I really like about our program is, um, I like that our students, uh, uh, not, not only do they do well in their courses and they do well on the BACB exam, but Dr. Nicholson and Andrew Hoover is, are leading our initiatives to, uh, continue to develop and refine our competencies. And the reason why that's so important to us is that, um, the BACB exam is the, is the minimum bar that we have for behavior analysts. Um, uh, they get jobs, which is, which is good, but we want to make sure that we can empirically demonstrate that when they graduate, they have certain skills. So every semester, whether you're a clinical student and you're an OBM student, whatever you have to demonstrate competencies that your supervisor and advisor will, um, will, uh, will monitor and observe and rate and, uh, assess to make sure that you can demonstrate the skills.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (19:33):

So not just that you do well in your classes and you get your hours, you do your research, you can actually demonstrate the skills that you're going to school for. And I think that's a very important piece to our program and the fact that we have a very strong, uh, OBM emphasis here. So, um, uh, as you know, the terminal degree in our field, the main degree in our field is the master's degree. So it's not going to take long for our master's students to get, uh, leadership positions. Um, and once you're in leadership positions and you're responsible for getting results through other people, uh, you are now an OBM-er so, uh, most of our students are actually on the dual track, the OBM, uh, the OBM, uh, track, uh, the OBM and clinical track, um, and all of our students are required to take, uh, OBM classes.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (20:26):

Um, our OBM students, um, uh, have, uh, opportunities. One thing that I think is really cool is that if our students want to get certified or OBM students want to get certified, and I always preface this by saying that they don't have to get certified, they can find jobs in OBM that they don't need their certification for, but the state they live in might require licensure. And there are a couple of States that do, and if their job, uh, in licensure is going to require a, a BCBA. Um, and if there are, uh, if there are jobs that they think they might be more marketable with the, with the, uh, with the BCBA credential, our big thing is we don't want OBM students who want to just do OBM work to be forced to take clinical classes, just to sit for the exam. So we have an OBM verified core sequence where they can take OBM classes and be eligible to sit for the exam.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (21:21):

Um, and that's very important to us. So that way you can learn about skill acquisition and the BACB task list through our training and development class. And you can learn about behaviors through safety and other, uh, industrial organizational OBM classes. Um, so that's very important to us that you can, um, take the solid OBM classes, foundational behavior analysis classes, along with your EAB and conceptual classes, and, and sit for the BCBA exam and our students, if you are going to be a practicing OBM practitioner, um, we allow you to go and demonstrate your skills. Just like if you're a clinical students, it's, I've always thought it was completely unfair that, uh, OBM students aren't allowed to get supervised field work or aren't required to get supervised field work like the clinical students. Um, they're reliant on doing that and small, uh, maybe one practicum class or as part of class projects or something like that.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (22:20):

And if you're an OBM student, you should be allowed to demonstrate skills to a faculty member and get supervised and get field and get, uh, field work, uh, feedback and experience. Um, again, doing OBM work, doing systems work, you know, performance management, work, leadership, work, developing trainings, things like that. So, um, we work hard to make sure that our OBM students that are clinical and OBM students get the skills, they need to be good frontline workers and to be good leaders, and that the students who want OBM experience, uh, don't have to find it on their own, that we can provide them with field work experience and feedback and coursework related to OBM. I think that's one of the proudest parts of our program, the thing that I like the most.

Shauna Costello (23:13):

And I mean, alone there aren't very many strictly OBM programs even around the country. So I think there's a handful, maybe, right now. So, and just the fact that, I mean, I've worked with the OBM students and some of the, you know, some of the clinical students as well, but I mean, they, they're very high caliber of students and it's really cool to see. And the reason I like supervising is because it keeps me on my toes as, so that's always something that I enjoy is being kept on my toes. And they definitely keep me on my toes. I'll tell you that much.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (23:52):

They're very good. You know, you, uh, uh, at, at ABA tech, you have people like Kelly Therrian and Alison King, who are alums of ours and our, uh, you know, leaders in OBM, uh, we're very proud to have people like them there, and we're very happy that they, uh, are still here to help mentor the next generation of OBM students that are coming out because they have a valuable insight. So yeah, very proud of our, we have strong, strong clinical program, but, um, and I'm very proud of that. The very proud that we also have emphasis on, um, an EAB and OBM, I think it offers a good array of experiences for students.

Shauna Costello (24:33):

Yep. And I know that I got the same type of well-rounded experience when I was at Western. So I liked that, you know, to see me hear about it yet to seen, hear other programs doing it too, because, um, you know, sometimes not always do our programs do that. So, um, yes. Um, but how about the area? I know that I've lived down here now for a little over a year. Um, I know that I've walked in, driven around campus. Um, I've experienced Melbourne and beach side and launches, but what, can you explain the area a little bit?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (25:13):

Yes. Um, so about the, uh, the area. Yeah. So as, as you might know, so I'm, uh, I'm from Kalamazoo, I'm from the Michigan area. Um, and, uh, so I, uh, it was a bit of a culture shock coming to Florida. I did spend a couple of years in Florida, um, when I was a kid, but, um, you know, when I came down here, I was like, oh, is it going to be too hot, so on and so forth. And, um, we love it, my wife, and I've got a five year old daughter, um, you know, we love it down here. I mean, it's, um, you know, we used to vacation in Florida a lot. So the thing that I like to talk to potential students about or interested in the area is, you know, it's, uh, it might be pretty obvious that there's a million things to do with Florida.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (25:56):

You know, we're a few hours North of Miami, so there's many things to do there, or a couple of hours, uh, East of Tampa. Um, we're right on the ocean. We're less than an hour away from Orlando and the Disney parks and universal and all those things. And then North Florida has some of the most gorgeous Springs that you can find on the planet. Um, uh, there's just so much to do from the, from the wildlife around here to just the activities or sports, and you can be active all year around. Uh, I mean, it's just, it's, it's perfect to me, there's a million things to do, or they're living around here and there's good. Um, in the Melbourne area, there's a good music scene. There's a good food scene here. We've got a nice little quaint downtown area, you know, like you said, there's beach side, a million things to do there.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (26:44):

And, um, contrary to popular belief, I will be maybe the first one to, to emphasize the people that, uh, we do have seasons in Florida. It's not just various degrees of heat. And, uh, what I'd like to kind of equate it to is that if, uh, if you want the leaves to change, uh, it's not going to happen. Uh, but, but even if you go North, we went trick or treating in the Orlando area with my kid. And there were, you know, leaves; they were a little bit changed there and fallen, but, you know, you don't expect that, but you know, it's, you know, 60 degrees today, uh, and, uh, and you get, you're gonna get ups and downs of heat every once in a while. But the thing that was the biggest shocker for me is, um, from like October to maybe even into may a little bit, um, it's nice weather, you know, you're, you know, and, uh, and those other months, yeah, it's going to be really humid and it's going to be hot.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (27:42):

You might have intermittent days in the nineties in there, but, uh, you know, it's, uh, that's one of the things I like to tell people is that you get, you get a lot of really nice weather and I'm a runner. I really, I enjoy being outside. And it was, it was hard to run in the humidity and the heat in the middle of the summer when I came down here. But my first race was in the beginning of November and I was, I was bundled up, like I lived in Michigan, still for that race. I had a hat on and gloves and it was, it was freezing. Uh, it's just so it's, it's a really beautiful place to be great people. So

Shauna Costello (28:15):

I know, and I always say that I am not built for Florida weather. I'll tell you that much. Um, so I will, I mean, this is just something that people have heard me say multiple times on this podcast already, especially talking with like dr. John Baker, cause him and I are both, we love snow and we love cold. Um, but yeah, it's, um, it's, it's, it was a culture shock for me too. And, but there are a lot of hot days. And, but I mean, I have friends that go surfing. One thing I noticed too, is that I didn't eat a lot of fish before I came down here. The quality of fish that is in this area is phenomenal, phenomenal. So you might not be getting like your lobsters and like this and that, but the quality of fish is absolutely phenomenal.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (29:09):

I agree. And there's really good. I mean, it's, you know, all the shellfish that's around here. I mean, it's just, and it's, uh, you know, I got spoiled a little bit living in Michigan because if you have white fish or walleye or something like that, which I was raised with, it came right from the lakes. Um, and the same thing here is that your, you get your shrimp and your scallops and things like that. And they caught it and brought it right to your table. I mean, it's a really cool,

Shauna Costello (29:33):

Yeah. And, um, I mean, there's a lot of stuff to do though. And I like to say that people always ask me where I live and they have no idea where that's at. And I'm like, it's by NASA. They're like, okay, okay. Cause I live a little bit North of Melbourne. So, um, but also this where we're located right now, it's I like to say you're like within three hours of like anything in the state, if you wanted to go to anything in the state of Florida, you were within about three hours, no matter which way you go. So I know that I've driven down to Miami and went to a Florida Panthers game. Um, Tampa is on my list so I can go see the lightning and things like that.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (30:13):

You're right. It's a, it's, it's really cool. I mean, like you said, you and everything has a unique culture and North Florida has a culture and the Gulf coast culture and in Miami, I mean, there's just so much cool stuff around, so

Shauna Costello (30:26):

Yep. I will say I'm going to complain now just because we're getting into snowbird season. So that means that everybody is migrating right now to this area in the roads, just get packed with

Dr. Nick Weatherly (30:42):

It's the, it's the it's, it's nice to live, where you vacation. Uh, but then once you get down and you realize that you live where people vacation, they all come down and when it gets cool.

Shauna Costello (30:55):

Yeah, they do. I know that skateboarding is, that was the thing that I, when I was going around campus, that was a big thing too. Like, I didn't really realize this, but so many people skateboard on campus that there are actually skateboard racks in like all of the rooms, which is really interesting. But what else, is there anything else about the program or the area that you want to make sure that you talk about?

Dr. Nick Weatherly (31:22):

I think, you know, the main thing is that we, uh, we have faculty that are here on campus. We have faculty that are around the country and, um, I strongly encourage if you have any sort of interest in any of our programs to please reach out to me, um, uh, because, uh, odds are, we'll find we have something for you. We really pride ourselves on being individualized. Um, if you come to campus, you're going to see most of the faculty here and their offices working with students, doing something or at the Scott center, doing something or in the community, they're gonna be out there doing something in the community with the students. Um, and, uh, we have a good student faculty ratios. Our, uh, our doc students, um, are heavily involved with, uh, setting up their own research labs and they do great work. Um, we just have a lot of opportunities here for people. Florida's really cool. Faculty are really cool. We pump out a lot of good research. Uh, we have, um, a lot of experienced practitioners. So, you know, there's just a lot here for folks.

Shauna Costello (32:28):

Yup. And a lot of history as well. Thank you so much for chit chatting today about the program. Um, and I will, like I do with all of them. I'll make sure to include your email so that if anybody does to reach out and ask questions that they can do that.

Dr. Nick Weatherly (32:42):

Please do, thank you.

Shauna Costello (32:44):

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the university series. If you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at


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