A bus that comes near your home

Travellers in Sydney’s Inner West can now book a dedicated seat on BRIDJ, an On Demand public transport bus, with micro buses in the region. BRIDJ doesn’t always take the same route like a normal bus service so they’ll ask you to meet where it’s safe to board. They give you walking directions to your pick up location via an app which also takes payments. The BRIDJ technology was born in 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts out of a need to provide transport options for parts of the city that were under serviced by public transport.  After a major partnership fell through, BRIDJ was acquired by Transit Systems, an Australian-based company with experience in running successful bus operations around the world. www.bridj.com

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University Education – A New Model for a New Era

There are more than one million students enrolled in Australian Universities. The majority of these are undergraduate students chasing the dream of a better life. They have enrolled because they believe that if they graduate from University then meaningful employment will shortly follow. They believe this because it is an ingrained cultural narrative that if you go to University you will get a better job. The Problem Unfortunately, these students are following an outdated playbook, and they face an environment where: There are fewer ‘zero-experience’ entry level graduate roles than ever; and Employers increasingly do not care that they have a University degree. The consequence to the student is painful, and the cost to our economy is profound: these graduates are taking roles that someone without an expensive university education can easily fill. If this trend continues then a University education becomes less of a pathway to meaningful employment and more of a luxury good. Our review reveals that the next generation of students is likely to have up to 17 different employers across at least five different careers .They enter a world burdened by the unsustainable consumption of previous generations, and they need to confront declining biodiversity, increasing global warming, fake news and the re-emergence of dictatorial political leaders. They are the first generation in decades whose standard of living is likely to be materially lower than their parents. The dominant mindset in the University sector is that minor advancements to the status quo are all that is needed to continue attracting vast numbers of high calibre, high paying students. In the longer term, prospective students will gradually wake up to the fact that they are seeking employment in a world vastly different to that encountered by the previous generation. If all Universities have to offer is their current model, then these future potential students will increasingly abandon the university system. What stands out to us above all was that the voice of the customer – students – is almost entirely absent from the dialogue. We seek to bring a ‘student-first’ perspective to this debate. The current model University education is currently focussed on the Knowledge Model. This model focusses on: [1] Creation of knowledge [2] Curation of problems, and [3] The distribution of knowledge. Millions of hours of student effort are wasted in broadcast lectures, theoretical conversations and repetitive drudgery aimed at building and testing knowledge often out of date before the degree is completed. A new model Based on our research we believe Universities should transition to the Applied Model. This model focusses on: [1] Creation of knowledge [2] Curation of problems, and [3] The direction and credentialing of student effort to solve these problems. Large scale problems are addressed in socially collaborative scenarios across multiple subjects, degrees and faculties. The energy and enthusiasm of students is harnessed by academics coaching them to actively and continuously achieve and question knowledge in context – beyond the historic content of a specific academic discipline . The Applied Model is designed to foster and credential an individual’s ability to search for and apply relevant knowledge to a defined problem. It  is a concept designed to better cater to the needs of society, business and students today in an environment where the half-life of useful knowledge and skills is on a continuous decline. The economy is placing different demands on graduate students and universities need to in-turn change their product to better prepare graduate students for an erratic career path. The Applied Model differs from the current Knowledge Model in three specific ways: It places greater emphasis on the institution as curator of the “problems” – and in so doing proposes a new role for them in society. It does not focus on one specific discipline but proposes that disciplines or faculties are united across the effort to scope and solve a problem. It suggests that the role of an academic in a student’s life must be transitioned from that of lecturer [and a font of singular knowledge sets at a given period in time] to one of a coach across a breadth and wider vision of what is possible, aiding not only in the foundation of a student’s knowledge whilst at university and beyond. International trends Through our work we seek to draw attention to the danger of comfortable lies – beware those who suggest that minor alterations to the status quo will maintain the global success of Australian Universities. In a global, technology driven education market, the high calibre, high paying students are mobile customers. Data from Citibank shows that globally, young people are desperately seeking more real-world preparation – with 78% believing internships and apprenticeships are critical for success. Australia and its education system relies on international students to a greater degree than any other country in the world. Education related travel services are our largest service export (and third largest export item behind iron and coal). Other countries are investing significantly in their education systems and Australia cannot compete at a fiscal level. Consequently, for Australia to have a competitive advantage in the market place it must have a unique, more compelling offering to students that will stand them in front of the market – certainly something far smarter than a nice country to arrive in and good living conditions (where according to the International Student Barometer we outperform the global market by 2% and 1% respectively. The current Knowledge Model sits at the heart of the University offering and a continued reliance on this model will inevitably result in a downwards trajectory. To achieve growth in a highly competitive market higher education providers must improve both their product offering and business model. Through the introduction of an Applied Model, we would see Universities becoming curators and custodians of large real-world problems. In doing so, Universities would then frame their degree structure to run across multiple faculties to address the resolution of those problems. Through this process it is believed that we would see Universities taking greater advantage of technologies and educational content provided by other sources (such as businesses, academic providers, government institutions, think tanks, etc.) to produce more rounded, agile graduates. The business view Businesses are finding it challenging to forecast the skills they will need in the future because they are unsure of the precise nature of the problems ahead […]

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Oyster mushrooms from coffee grounds

The average cafe produces 60kg of coffee grounds each week and 93% of cafes will throw them away. In landfill, these coffee grounds create greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide and methane) which are contributing to global warming. BUT coffee grounds are quite valuable. They make the perfect growing base for oyster mushrooms! BeanCycled is providing grow at home mushroom farms as well as composting projects for preschools and community gardens. www.beancycled.com.au

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Nuclear energy that’s super safe and affordable

The next generation of nuclear reactors called small modular reactors (SMR’s) can be built in a factory and transported to customers by truck or barge. They could overcome Australia’s resistance to power by fission and lead to super-safe and relatively cheap sources of electricity using Australia’s vast uranium resources . Rolls Royce say theirs could be in operation by 2030. Good to hear that a Parliamentary Enquiry will be held in Australia to review opportunities with nuclear energy.  It seems that the following generation of nuclear energy  uses fusion which does not need Australia’s uranium. https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/the-new-nuclear-option-small-safe-and-cheap-20190813-p52gr6 http://old.ideaspies.com/small-nuclear-power-reactors-for-affordable-low-carbon-energy/.

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Visit Cambodia and help to educate children

Cambodia has a chronic lack of an educated professional workforce to provide the teachers, trained nurses, accountants, engineers, doctors and administrators needed to build an economically and socially healthier and stronger country. Opportunity Cambodia is helping to change this situation At the end of 2018 their first group of high school students passed the National Exam and became eligible to apply to university. This is an impressive achievement for young people who come from the poorest families, where parents are illiterate and have little hope for the future. You can donate to help, connect them with a school or volunteer. Volunteers need to have tertiary education or training, energy,  imagination,  adaptability, commitment AND be over the age of 18, want to stay at least one month and be happy to live during the week in a rural village https://opportunitycambodia.org.au/get-involved/

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Science fiction writers to help improve public safety

French defence authorities are aiming to improve public safety by challenging science fiction writers to dream up life-threatening plots for their army to solve. Writers have been briefed to create stories with challenging threats. It will then be up to the army and France’s other defence forces to devise counter moves to neutralise the threats, save lives and secure premises. Among the global risks most likely to dominate civil defence agendas in the near future are climate change, cyberattacks and natural disasters. www.neweconomy.media/2019/08/12/french-imagining-counter-terrorism-responses/

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A live view from Google Maps using AR

Google Maps is rolling out its AR navigation, Google Live View. When you’re using Google Maps for directions, you simply navigate to “Walking” when presented with transit options and then tap “Live View.” You’ll see arrows and big street markers laid out on the real world in front of you, so you can orient yourself quickly instead of spinning around in every direction. The augmented reality feature is launching in beta on ARKit-compatable iOS devices and and ARcore-compatable Androids. www.producthunt.com/newsletter/3074

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Smart software that converts documents to an easily searchable format

WordFlow is an Australian company with new smart software that converts Adobe Pdf and Microsoft Word documents to an easily searchable Html format. It performs in more than 100 languages, tags critical words on every page; and, boasts superior security to other formats. To prove that WordFlow’s software could dramatically increase the number of visitors to a website the Banking Royal Commission’s final report was downloaded and digitised – to become the most popular unofficial provider of the report. Every page in the report is now searchable so anyone can seek out any aspect of the findings without having to read the entire document.  https://neweconomy.media/2019/08/05/the-aussie-software-solution-that-helps-users-navigate-a-tsunami-of-information-on-the-world-wide-web/

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More play breaks at school

“Any format that gives kids more time during school days to play outside, or simply have time for themselves, is good,” said Professor Sahlberg, whose new book, Let the Children Play, will be released in Australia this month. “There is a big difference between that time being structured for kids and that time being unstructured, free play that kids can decide what to do. The latter is better … because it gives children much more opportunities to figure out what to do, such as be creative, negotiate, collaborate and communicate”. www.smh.com.au/education/two-schools-have-doubled-their-play-breaks-and-parents-are-ecstatic-20190802-p52df9.html

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