I have hit a bit of a lull when it comes to my tiny house project. The idea is still something that excites me, and it is a project I would like to work towards, but as a student it currently seems unobtainable. My issue is I don’t want to start the project, and have it sit around not going anywhere for a number of years. If I’m going to build a tiny house, I want to do it right and I want to make sure it gets done.
Here is the problem, tiny houses have and will most likely continue to be quoted as sustainable, environmentally friendly and “affordable”. This is where my issue comes in. While on paper tiny houses do appear to be affordable, they may not be as affordable at first glance. A Tiny house is described as anything between 100 square feet – 400 square feet. Assuming the Tiny house I would like to build is about 200 square feet and building it myself ends up being around 30000$ I’m paying about 150$ per square foot. Which is slightly more then the average house price by square foot in America, which is around 120$ right now.
This is not the only issue. While it’s nice to research and find articles such as Business Insider, that break down the price of a tiny house using a number of different methods. Professionally built being between 45000$-150000$, while build by the owners is usually between 10000$-45000$ in USD. This doesn’t consider things like building permits, which in Victoria are currently 100$ to apply alone. This isn’t including the actual permit cost being 1.5% the cost of the work (again not including plumbing or electrical) adding all things considered let’s say I’m now at 31000$ to build my 200square foot tiny house. I now must get it insured. Which is currently impossible unless I am the landowner in the Greater Victoria Area and premiums being at most 250$. Next my choice is to either rent land (which is not currently legal) or buy land which range wildly in the GVA. Adding this all up we end up with around 230000$ if I was to buy land or 32000$ Renting plus monthly feeds before I have even built the thing.
For most people with a sustainable job or established lifestyle this may not seem to far out of reach, but for a university student it currently is not feasibly doable. The cost is currently just to high, I can continue to research and plan out the tiny house, maybe even come up with a more comprehensive budget but as of right now. Therefore, this project will have to remain a dream for my future self to pursue. I am also attaching a few resources that help explain the budgeting of a tiny house a little bit better.
Readers Digest: The Hidden Costs of a Tiny House
Tinyhouse Blog: The Cost of a Tiny House
Don’t let the title scare you off there is actually a benefit to be found in bringing technology into the classroom. This can be from immersive sandbox worlds like Minecraft, or letting students use video games to prove understanding of other course work.
Focusing on Minecraft, it is a game that is an open world sandbox. The game mechanics focus around building and creation through blocks and resource gathering. The trick with this game is that there is no objectives and it is completely open world. Allowing a facilitator or player to create their own mission or goals. Logging into the world you start with nothing and are in a completely randomly generated landscape.
Now depending on how you choose to play the game you can have unlimited materials and just build freely. Or you can play on survival mode and have to find your own resources. Starting with cutting down trees for wood, to create pickaxes and mine stone, after some time finding diamond and upgrading your gear. In survival mode you will be met with a number of challenges. First of all food, your character has to find food in order to survive. There are also monsters that will hunt the player at night, making shelters an essential part of the game. There are also a number of natural dangers in the game: Falling, Laval, Water. Players have to make sure that they are careful while being creative.
Our class were given two lessons, the first was the tutorial to the game and the basic controls for playing. An adventure world that lead us through an obstacle course and basic building process in order to reach a campfire at the end of the adventure. After understanding the controls we were released onto a creative world where we could build as much as we want. My friends and i immediately started in on an airship. After some time our facilitator turned on survival mode and all of us fell to the ground. Now without materials we set ourselves the goal to make it back up to the floating air ship. In less then an hour we had built a tower that returned us to our airship ad we concluded our adventure as a success.
This is just one example of how it can be used in the classroom, it forced a group of us to collaborate and develop a creative project. Dealing with natural adversities of the game as well as sabotage from other groups on the server. The facilitator finished our class by discussing other uses of the game. There are hundreds of lessons on the Minecraft EDU website that lay out goals and tasks that help students in a variety of subjects and grade levels. This along with the personal example of how our facilitator had a group of grade8 students create an ancient society on a desert biome with limited resources. This helping students to understand the adversities in anxiety society and come up with solutions to problems that may not be present today. I encourage you to explore the Minecraft EDU website to get a better understanding of how this type of sandbox type world can be used to help expedite learning.
Today in class we learned about two unique apps that help improve the method of assessment with in classrooms. The first being ZipGrade an application that removes the expense and speeds up the process of scantrons. The function of the app is very similar to the classic testing method. Create a multiple choice quiz and have students answer using a bubble sheet. The interesting part about this app is that every test c
an be graded instantly. The app uses locating squares and a cellphone camera to scan all the sheets instantly. Students are able to receive instant feedback on a quiz or test that they write. The app also analyses the results and can give you percentage break down by question giving the teacher a better instant feedback on what areas of the course content they may need to focus on in the future.
The second app we used was plicker, this app is similar to Zipgrade in that it instantly records students answers but it can be done without the test.
However the amazing part of this app is that there is no test involved. Students are given QR code like sheets of paper. These QR codes are student specific and can register a different answer based on the orientation the student
holds the code up. This app can also be used from a phone and the teacher doesn’t have to do more then stand at the front of the room and point a camera at all the students cards. The app registers all the QR codes and the answers taken from them. It is anonymous and instantaneous. The app also analyses the work similar to Zip grade and produces an analysis of the classrooms understanding.
Both of these apps work great as check in methods or tools for assessment. Allowing teachers to check in more often and with minimal effort can help them shape lesson plans in the future to focus on materials that would be more relevant and more necessary for the class to learn. While the user interface on both seems bland and unruly it doesn’t take long to figure out how to run a test and i’m sure with more practice could be used as a integral part of the classroom.
As teaching becomes more of an individualized practice teachers have to find ways to adapt lessons to accommodate all their students. As someone who has difficulty paying attention in class and constantly fidgeting I have found a need to constantly have something in my hands. I have heard about toys and fidget cubes that are supposed to help with this issue but have never had the opportunity to buy one. This was something I thought I might be able to solve using a 3d printer. I spent the weekend working on a design based on images I had seen online and my own typical movements when I fidget. Using the program Sketch up I designed a rectangular box with a number of different coping methods. I have since taken this design separated the pieces and began printing. The printer has proven to be more temperamental then expected but I hope by the end of the week to have a functioning prototype of the the fidget device. Though seeing the printing in the real world I have already started planning a second edition to this device. One that is more streamlined and able to fit into a pocket.
I have been using myself as an example here but this is a similar process that a student could go through. The project itself has help promote self learning and research as I developed a design and looked at many different styles of fidget devices. It also has long term effects, if proven successful it will provide me with a device that will help me focus in other classes in the future. It is also a project that can be done by virtually any age group. CBC recently wrote and article on a teacher that used 3D printing technology with a grade six class to study the physics of flight. This is another example of how 3D printing is making it’s way into schools and programs are being developed with the new technology in mind. Again showing an example of how 3D printing is being used by classrooms to push learning to the limits and design new curriculum around the tools and materials that are at the leading edge of today’s society. Helping to better prepare our students for the future. Not to mention it is pretty cool!
Technology Is Here To Stay
During this past year I was able to work at a private school as an educational assistant. From day one something that struck me as odd was the fact that every student had an ipad or a computer. What I quickly learned was that this piece of technology was leant to them by the school and all of their work and date was kept on these devices. These devices remain with the students throughout their educational career. Students use them for everything. Course work was pushed out to students through google classroom. Homework was shared with parents and messages could be written to student parent or teacher. Students take pictures with them and waist time with them. This school even taught classes on technologies giving students a chance to explore exactly what their ipad’s could do. I found these classes particularly interesting as it allowed me to learn exactly what the student was capable of and how the ipad could be used to help in an educational setting.
One of the major benefits I saw from this was the interconnectivity between all the departments at the school. Every teacher had access to the students work allowing them to grade and assess work communally. This was a huge benefit to me as it allowed me to see the students I worked with in other classes. I was able to find areas of strengths for my students and focus on those. Using similar style assignments in order to help students with course work that they may be struggling with. As part of their course requirements students were also asked to share work with their parents. This was a perfect way to keep parents involved with their students learning.
Teaching students to use ipads is essential in todays society. While the last great battle may be technology free zones there is no denying that it is here to stay. It is how we use this technology and develop it that will be crucial in the future. So rather then banning it from our classrooms we should introduce it in this manner. Show students how Ipads and other technology can be used to benefit society and their own learning. Students may find a passion for coding in elementary years and pursue that to make the next big technological breakthrough.
As we have all been talking about in our discussions apps and technology that help to further our education this is the gateway into that learning. While there is no need for it to be apple brand ipads specifically a uniform use of technology across schools can help with connectivity and interconnection between faculty. Having that technology carry with the student as he or she moves up the grades will help reinforce earlier lessons and give students an opportunity to look back on how far they have come.