Mariana: Hi Steven, can you tell me a bit about what the Tapestry project is?
Steven: At a high level, the purpose of Tapestry is to explore the nature of video, and the myriad forms that videos can take besides the classic notion of video, which is a linear time-based (mostly) unmodifiable piece of content. Our current analogy for Tapestry is that of a conversation: What would a video-based conversation look like? I will use that analogy of a conversation frequently during the remainder of our interview.
Mariana: Ok. So, what is the overarching goal of the Tapestry project?
Steven: The major goal of the project is to build a tool, Tapestry, that can enable people to have conversations with video and other content. That is, to allow media to be constantly remixed and editable, either for pedagogical purposes or for more general community-based conversations about topics of interest.
Steven: A secondary goal of the project is to provide the Tapestry tool with some ‘seeds’ for conversations. In particular, we will create modules for four aspects of living in a diverse world: Invisible Disabilities, Intercultural Understanding, Indigenous Communities, and Sexuality. Our hope is that these modules will engage people in video-based conversations about these important topics in such a way that they can remix and edit the content at will, and in ways that enrich the modules and offer differing perspectives.
Steven: Another goal is to integrate the Tapestry software into the main distribution for H5P, which is a set of tools that allow educators to create content-rich experiences for students. Our hope is that such integration will allow Tapestry to take on a life that outlasts the three-year term of the funding for this project. There are, of course, other goals for the project, but I think those are some of the most important ones. Oh, I should also note that the purpose of the project is not to merely enable conversations with video, but with multiple forms of media. We are tackling video first because we consider it to be the ‘hard problem’ that must be solved before we can integrate other forms of media.
Mariana: Can you give me some examples of the different ways in which Tapestry can be used throughout UBC?
Steven: There are already some use-case scenarios on the website for tapestry, but I’ll give you a simple example. Let’s say I am the instructor for a course on Psychological Disorders. I want to allow students to engage in video-based conversations about invisible disabilities. So, I create an assignment where I provide them with the Invisible Disabilities module and ask them, as groups, to add ‘branches’ off of the module –that is, add video-based content to the existing module to enrich the content of the Invisible Disabilities module. Then, I grade their branches at the end of the term, and I decide, as the instructor for the course, which branches will be retained for the next offering of the course. That is, I select those branches that I feel add something significant to the Invisible Disabilities module and carry them forward to the next section of my course.
Mariana: What is this project trying to accomplish? Will this tool be used for online courses and in-class courses?
Steven: I see Tapestry as a way of enabling student-faculty co-creation of knowledge and also allowing the ability to engage in Socratic conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in a large-classroom environment. It remains to be seen which instructors will choose to use this tool. It is obviously up to an instructor as to whether they adopt this tool in their courses or not. But one of the goals of the project, which I didn’t state earlier, is enabling ease-of-use of Tapestry and also educating faculty about the benefits and use-cases for Tapestry.
Mariana: So, when is Tapestry expected to be released?
Steven: The alpha-version of Tapestry (i.e., the tool without the ability to create new conversations, to use the analogy I used earlier) will be released for testing in various courses in Term 1 of 2018W. We expect that the beta version, with authoring (i.e., ‘conversational’) capabilities, will be released in time for Term 1 of 2019W or even much earlier as development has been progressing at a faster pace than we had anticipated.