Virginia Tech, Tiny Houses, and Distance Education in Higher Ed

Virginia Tech is utilizing distance education technologies to bring specialists into the classroom.  On 14 April 2015, I had the opportunity to be a visiting guest for a sustainability course taught by Luke Juran. Using Skype I was able to present and interact with the students in the course. Below is a photo from our Skype session.


I’ve been inspired by the increased interest in tiny houses among students and faculty in higher education. Those focusing on sustainability and urban planning are incorporating smaller and more efficient living spaces into our built spaces. This tells me that we’re reaching a point of critical mass within the small house movement.

As a technology support specialist at the University of Iowa, I enjoy exploring how we can utilize technology for enhancing education. At the University of Iowa, through the Division of Continuing Education, courses are offered through Distance and Online Education.

Continuing education typically delivers certificates, degrees, and professional training to people with full-time jobs who do their studying in the evenings and weekends. In addition to schedule conflicts, people pursuing their career may find their ideal career location doesn’t put them close to the educational institution of their choice. So, distance education provides a great service.

In the past I assisted in teaching a course that utilized various classrooms on campus with multi-camera and multi-microphone systems to enhance the connection with an instructor in California.

More recently I had an opportunity to provide some technical support for a course being conducted by the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State University. The course, Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry, had students on three campuses participating.

Combining the on-campus experience with efficiencies of distance and online technologies, creates the best of both worlds. The in-class experience gives students a chance to meet in person. The online component helps expand the campus to include a richer diversity of students and draw from a wider selection of faculty.

NPR Tiny House Interview with Tom Ashbrook

On 4 March 2015, I had a nice interview on NPR with Tom Ashbrook and some other tiny house enthusiasts. Click the play button below to listen in.

Below is a description of the show from Tom Ashbrook:

For years, Americans have been on the McMansion trail. Bigger and bigger homes have driven up the average size of US accomodations and expectations. But there is a counter-movement, the “tiny house movement,” that is pushing for just the opposite. Pushing for – and building and living in – teeny tiny houses. Five hundred square feet. Four hundred. Three hundred. Two hundred. And tiny apartments, too – micro-apartments – gaining interest. Backers. Dwellers. The tiny house people say it’s all about living light. Maybe living better, in a very small space. This hour On Point: tiny houses, and the urge to live small.


From Tom’s Reading List

NPR News: Living Small In The City: With More Singles, Micro-Housing Gets Big — “While the average size of new houses gets bigger every year in the U.S., some people are trying to do more with less. A lot less. Tiny houses and micro apartments are now a niche trend in the housing market. Smaller spaces are touted as more environmentally friendly, more affordable and perhaps even more communal. The idea is you might be more likely to get out and be social if you live in a smaller space.”

WFAE: Big Challenges For Tiny Houses In North Carolina — “If you could design your dream home, what would it look like? A big house with a four car garage? Maybe something more modest but efficient. Places like Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC have communities experimenting with small living spaces known as tiny houses. North Carolina has caught on to the tiny house trend—homes that are tiny by nature, but artistically designed for those looking for a more compact way of living without going into much debt. ”

The Oregonian: ‘Portlandia’ tiny house: Fred and Carrie have never been so close — “Are you searching for an affordable home in Portland’s Alberta Arts District? Does your soul want sustainability yet your heart yearns for luxuries like a master bathroom with soaking tub, TV and a window framing landscape? Would an efficient home office and library filled with classics feed your mind? The tiny house that stars in Thursday’s episode of ‘Portlandia’ might be the perfect fit. If you can squeeze in.”

Greg Johnson Talks Tiny Houses on National Public Radio

Greg Johnson of the Small House Society will be featured on a special OnPoint radio broadcast along with others involved in the tiny house movement. The show will be live on National Public Radio (Boston, WBUR).

Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Time: 10AM to 11AM Central Time (11-12ET, 9-10MT, 8-9PT)

Facebook. Learn more and signup for the live online broadcast here:


Participants Needed (ASAP):

Two Radio Interview Participants Needed! Sorry for the short notice, but we’re hoping to find two people who would like to be interviewed on this hour-long National Public Radio show about tiny houses. This would be a call-in interview, so you wouldn’t need to travel. We want to round out the guests on the show, so we’re looking for one woman, and one man to be guests. One should be living in a tiny rural tiny home. The other should be living in a micro apartment. Neither guest should be living in Iowa City or Washington. Preferably younger millennial/hipster micro home dwellers. For details, contact us as soon as possible. Thanks! Please contact us if you’re interested.




Wisconsin Public Radio – Small House Interview

On Monday, 6 October 2014, Wisconsin Public Radio dedicated an hour to discussing the small house movement. I was able to be a guest on the show and talk about tiny house living. You can listen to the interview below. Click here to read more on the WPR website. Thanks to the Joy Cardin Show for featuring tiny houses!