Manifold Case Study: Eastern Kentucky University

Published on August 7th, 2023

The Open Education Network's Karen Lauritsen recently welcomed Kelly Smith and Laura Edwards from Eastern Kentucky University Libraries to discuss their Manifold pilot project, SWK 340: Social Work Research Methods OER Collection. In addition, Terence Smyre and Robin Miller from the Manifold team talked about the upcoming Manifold V8 release and answered questions.

You can view the video recording of their discussion or keep reading for a full transcript. For those interested in reading the conversation that took place among participants and the resources shared, the chat transcript is also available below.

Note: If your comments appear in the transcripts and you would like your name or other identifying information removed, please contact Tonia.

Audio Transcript


  • Karen Lauritsen (Senior Director, Publishing, Open Education Network)
  • Kelly Smith (Director of Collections & Discovery, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries)
  • Laura Edwards (Associate Director of Metadata and Discovery, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries)
  • Terence Smyre (Manifold Digital Projects Editor, University of Minnesota)
  • Robin Miller (Open Education Technology Specialist, City University of New York)

Karen: Hello and welcome, everyone. My name's Karen Lauritsen. I'm Senior Director with the Open Education Network. Thank you so much for joining us today so that you can get to know our Manifold pilot community, specifically the team at Eastern Kentucky University who you'll meet in just a moment. I'm going to give you a little bit of background on the Manifold pilot before handing things over. So a couple of years ago, the OEN was selected as one of six organizations to join the Manifold community. We received a grant-funded support package thanks to funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and that package included one year of Manifold-managed hosting, training, and support. Then the OEN provided an additional year of Manifold access so that our pilot participants would have a good amount of time to dig in. And so when you add all of that up, we have a two-year pilot that is running through March 2024, and then this group is going to make recommendations as to whether the OEN offers Manifold to the broader community.

So traveling back in time, we launched officially in Spring 2022. We have people from more than a dozen institutions and organizations, and we all went through the Manifold training together, which was led by Terence Smyre at the University of Minnesota and Robin Miller at the City University of New York. They are both here and both continue to provide support as needed, and we are very thankful for their guidance. I'm going to drop a link in the chat so that you can see the pilot community's projects in the OEN Manifold instance as they are today. Speaking of today, we're going to hear from Kelly Smith. She is Director of Collections and Discovery at Eastern Kentucky University Libraries, and she is here with Laura Edwards, who is Team Leader of Discovery and Metadata at Eastern Kentucky University Libraries. Laura and Kelly are going to discuss their Manifold pilot project, SWK340, Social Work Research Methods, OER collection.

In addition, Terence and Robin are here and they can talk about the upcoming version eight Manifold release and answer any questions you might have about Manifold more broadly. And in addition, some of you here may have experience with Manifold yourself, so please know you're always welcome to share your experience and feel free to do that as we move through the hour. Also, as questions occur to you, feel free to drop them in chat and we'll just take it as it comes. So with that, I'm going to hand things over to Kelly and Laura. Thank you.

Kelly: Hey everybody, thanks for joining us and listening about this today. So as Karen introduced me, I'm Kelly Smith and I'm going to make a slight correction. So Laura's title has changed. She's actually Associate Director for Metadata and Discovery instead of Team Leader. We had a reorganization since LinkedIn or wherever that's posted, Laura.

So we're going to talk today just about our experience over the past year with the OEN Manifold pilot, and it has been an experimentation. The things that we're posting in Manifold are not in final status of any kind. It's basically us experimenting. So with that, I'll get started. So today, we're not going to talk about every feature Manifold does well or everything that we like about it, and we're definitely not going to do a sales pitch, but we want to focus on two specific test cases that we used Manifold for and the reason that we wanted to join this pilot.

So I'm going to give you just a little bit of context to start. We are a regional comprehensive university serving a large number of first-generation students, primarily the eastern half of the state of Kentucky. We have published faculty authored texts since 2019. We started doing that, as you can see in the screenshot, in our Encompass digital repository, which is built on the Bepress Digital Commons platform. So, we have published around one book a year since we started doing this.

This is one of the most recent books we've published. This is a first-year writing text that was adopted across all sections of our first-year writing course in fall of 2022, so we're super excited about that. So this screen, this is a screenshot of the page where we've got that uploaded. And as you can see, and most of you might be familiar with Digital Commons, it's a little static. We don't have a lot of options in terms of the main text that we're publishing. So you can download it as a PDF, as an entire PDF, or as chapters separated out. So this is not the optimal viewing method for a pedagogical purposes for a textbook. So we had been talking about where to expand, whether to start with Pressbooks, what our next options might be, and this Manifold pilot came up and so we decided to join. So, Laura is going to talk us through these next slides.

Laura: Hi, everybody. Excuse me. So what led us to want to try out Manifold? So we've got a couple of highlights of what really attracted us to the Manifold platform. So first off is, it's a very beautiful and thoughtful design out of the box. So when I first saw a site on a Manifold platform, I don't want to get too romantic, but I felt like my brain just decompressed when I looked at it because it just made perfect sense. It was just so beautiful, it was so thoughtful. Yeah, I was very, very impressed, so just a beautiful, very thoughtful design. As you'll notice if you start looking at Manifold sites, how the design is very responsive. There's a lot of white space, so it's very easy to scan and look at the text and collections on the Manifold platform. Next slide, please.

It's a very flexible platform. So in addition to the traditional text-based book like textbooks, it's also really good at supporting collecting materials and resources around essential text. So for example, if you're a faculty member, you're using a textbook, but you've also got supporting materials or classroom exercise and stuff that you want to put together around that textbook that you're using, Manifold is a really good place for that. You can also just create collections of all different kinds of things. It's also really good at supporting multimedia objects like videos, images. And again, it presents all of that in just that very beautiful and thoughtful way that really just makes sense when you end up on a Manifold site. Next slide, please.

So, what Kelly was mentioning earlier is it's got some really good pedagogical features, so there's a look and feel like a textbook. I do want to note that, and I believe Robin and Terence will talk about this later on, but it does not currently offer text editor support. So the formatting that you're seeing on this screenshot there under that textbook look and feel, the document was formatted in a source file that was done ingested onto the Manifold platform. But as you can see, Manifold supports that formatting and it renders it in that really beautiful way that's just, again, very easy to read and access. And it also supports shared annotation, so you can annotate, highlight notes for yourself. You can also be part of a reading group, say with a class, where you want to do shared annotation. You can also do public annotation as well, which Kelly and I are going to touch base on further down this slide. Next slide, please.

They've also got some very good accessibility and usability features on the Manifold platform. There's another thing that really impressed me about this site when I first saw it was the support for the e-readers functionality. So you do have some control over how the text renders on your screen, so you can adjust the size of the text, you can adjust the type of text, whether you want it to be a serif or sans serif font. You can expand or minimize the screen however you want. There's a lot of flexibility with that. The user can adjust it to their own specification.

There's also accessibility support. So I pulled an example here of how they've got this feature built in when you can, right there within the Manifold backend, add alt text for images that you might upload into a collection. And so on that screenshot there you can see, so there's a screenshot for the Manifold backend where you can add the alt text. And then down towards the bottom is that same alt text, how it renders. That's an image that we have added into a collection, and so that alt text transfers over so it's accessible for screen readers that might be accessing that site. Next slide, please.

It has a very intuitive administrative interface. Now, the platform, I will say it is very complex and complicated, but it's also very intuitive. The backend guides you through the process, so when you're going in there to create a text or a collection, you get a sense of what to do. It really does guide you through that process. And also, this is really great. This just amazes me that we can do this now. It has drag and drop functionality so you can drag and drop features around in that backend. That just really makes me really excited. Next slide, please.
Also, its flexibility with guardrails, I don't know a better way to put it. You have a lot of flexibility, but it's like you're in a playground, but you're within a very confined space. Their design was very thoughtful in how you're constrained with what you can do, but the design is thoughtful in that they've already anticipated what you will need to do on that site, so they have a lot of flexibility in the kind of content that you can add. You have flexibility in that you can add table of contents, resources, metadata. You can add customized texts that you might want to put on that collection landing page. You can drag and drop those different content blocks around. So again, it's flexible, but it does have that guardrail so you're not going to break something when you're in the back end. Okay. Next slide, please. And so now we're going to talk a little bit about the test cases and observations. And Kelly, back to you.

Kelly: I'm going to talk about the easy one, because Laura's better at the hard ones. So just a little context, I am the head of the division, so I have a lot of different responsibilities. Laura's focus is really metadata, in the weeds, nitty-gritty, so she understands this way more than I do, but I'm here too, so I'm going to talk about this. So our first test case was a faculty member who really, really did want to publish her text. She had adopted a textbook that was already in existence, one of the good social work textbooks that's out there, but she wanted to include her ancillaries with it for her students in an open way instead of having it siloed in Blackboard. We had already published her stuff in the Bepress repository, and so the link, and I can put these links in the chat later, but you can link and look and see how that looks. We've still got that in there.

But then we pulled it straight into Manifold just to see how it would look. And correct me if I'm wrong, Laura, but you did not really make any changes. This is out of the box. We threw all that stuff in there and it just looks better already, and we have the capability of putting those ancillaries in a coordinated way. If you go to the Bepress Digital Commons site, we've got all the ancillaries down there, but they're not organized in any way. It's just one after the other and you just keep scrolling until you find what you're looking for, I guess. But the Manifold one has different collections in the bottom, so it's got the PowerPoints in one and the assignments and whatever, all the things that Dr. Stevenson has in there. And Laura. So, that test case worked really well. Our faculty member was super pleased. She loves it.

Laura: Correct. Yeah, so this test case too is where we were experimenting with how could we do open peer review and Manifold. So this is for another social work faculty who was interested in authoring her own textbook and was very interested in exploring, "How could I do open peer review on this? So as I'm writing draft chapters, can I put them up on Manifold and then open it up so that I can get comments, not just from my students, but from faculty at other institutions nationwide? Just open it all up." So she also was like, "Obviously, we would want to indicate that this text was in draft mode, that this is still a work in progress," so Manifold, there are ways to do that.

So on those screenshots there, there's just different ways that I've tried to indicate that. Like I said, there's a draft chapter. I was able to customize text to make that more clear. This is all in draft mode. And then the other interesting thing about Manifold too is that when you go into a draft chapter, this is something to do. I'm sure Terence or Robin could explain how this is done in the backend, but you can indicate that chapter is in draft mode, and it's very prominent. So in that screenshot there is that yellow bar across the bottom where I modified that to say draft chapter, just so which is very clear to the user if they've ended up on that page, this is still in draft mode, so that part was wonderful. Next slide, please.

So again, like I mentioned earlier, Manifold does support public annotations. That feature is pretty straightforward. I think the platform does default to allowing public annotation. You do have the option to disable that in the backend if you wish, but obviously we left that feature enabled, and the annotation features are pretty streamlined. They're pretty easy to see. That function is very easy to access on that Manifold platform, and it will display those annotations within the context. If somebody highlighted text and annotated that, that annotation will show up side by side with what they've highlighted in the text. Okay. Next slide, please.
So we were just, again, thinking through how do we incentivize people to come to this faculty member's textbook in draft? And so, if somebody didn't know, and this faculty's like, "Hey, I'm at a social work conference, come annotate this text. This is the name of it, here's the link to it," how would they know where to go? So what we noticed that if you link directly to that reading group, the public reading group that we created for this text, there's no way to actually join the group. When you end up on the landing page for that reading group, you actually have to back up and go to the full list of public reading groups. So this text is hosted on OEN's Manifold platform, so you have to back up to the Manifold OEN homepage for public reading groups and then find the public reading group from that list and then click the join button there, because that's just a little bit of additional instruction that you would have to give to users that might want to participate in this open peer review. Next slide, please.

Another thing that we did notice was when you first go to Manifold and you go to start annotating text, it does default to your own private notes. You have to take that extra step of identifying what reading group you want your notes to be part of. And so this is just some screenshots illustrating how the user would have to understand that their note currently defaults to their own personal notes and they would have to actively identify the public reading group that they wanted their annotations to be part of. Next slide, please.

Another thing we noted was that, and I'm not sure if I am going to try to explain this correctly, the public annotations are viewable. If you have that text open and you're scanning the text, you have to scan through the text to see what's been highlighted and made note of. The reason why I'm bringing that up is so, say I'm the faculty member, I'm ready to start revising that draft chapter, I need a list of all of those annotations and notes in a centralized place. And so that's why I was talking about public reading group. That's really the only way to do that that we could see. If you have it just set to open public annotations without a reading group, everybody can see that there are notes and highlights on that, but those highlights and annotations are not collected in a centralized list that that faculty member could access, if that makes sense. They have to be part of a public reading group in order just to have access to those notes. Next slide, please.

And so, to compare this with another annotation software that we are aware of is called Hypothesis. And Kelly can jump in if I'm not explaining it correctly. It's a platform-agnostic open annotation tool. It's not tied to a platform. So like the annotation tools I was talking about earlier on Manifold, those are specific to that Manifold platform. You have to be on Manifold in order to make those annotations. Hypothesis on the other hand is platform-agnostic. In this screenshot here, this is an example of a plugin that you can enable on the Pressbooks platform, which is a separate OER offering platform. It's similar to Manifold where you can author OER texts.
So, this is an example of how you can enable Hypothesis as a plugin on that Pressbooks text. It's just integrated better. You don't have to be part of a public reading group in order to see. It just displays, in that panel on the right, a list of all the annotations that have been made on the text that you're looking at, and those don't have to be made as part of a public reading group. That faculty member who could just go into this Pressbooks instance. They could see a list of all those annotations just right there side by side with the text.

Then another thing I did want to note about Hypothesis I thought was interesting is that it is very granular. It does give you control over exactly where you want to enable annotations. So a potential use case might be that if a particular draft, the faculty member is ready to go back and revise it, they might want to disable annotations because they don't want additional notes coming in because that text is in the middle of being revised. You can go in into this hypothesis plugin and you can pick, do you want to allow it on chapters? Do you want to allow it on the front matter? You want to disable that or not? You do have a little bit more granularity on how you can set that up.

Kelly: Okay, so just to wrap this part up a little bit, a few reflections on the test cases we had is that it worked very well for Dr. Stevenson adopted book and ancillaries model. The annotation issues are not a deal-breaker for us for adding Manifold. So we're part of Manifold pilot, but we also decided to get our own instance of Manifold because we think for the potential that it has for multimedia, there are some projects that we really want to publish in there. So it's not a deal-breaker for us, but it's definitely worth considering what's best for individual faculty needs depending on the project. And at this point, the way the annotations are developed, we're probably going to recommend that our faculty member looks more at Pressbooks, because we've got that now too, so for the public annotations that she wants to do.

And then the third observation is that there's a steep-ish technical learning curve. So at least in our institution, putting things in here requires mediation by Laura. We have to make it easy for our faculty, otherwise they won't use it. I know that Robin has an extremely robust program at her institution, and she could talk a little bit more about how she's managed to do that, but for us just getting started, this is definitely something that we mediate. But the flexibility of the platform is a plus, obviously.
Okay, just a couple more slides. So Laura, did you want to talk about... Some of these are yours and some of them are mine, so do you want to just take turns?

Laura: Sure. Right now, I will be honest, I'm trying to remember the issue that we had with ingesting images and formatting. I feel like that might've been something that I had communicated with Terence about before, that he fixed the issue for it, I believe. I think it was something-

Kelly: Okay, so full disclosure. Full disclosure, we adapted this presentation from one we did way back in the spring just for the Manifold pilot folks, and this slide is from that, and so we can't remember exactly what we were talking about, but in the beginning we had some issues with that. Terence, I don't know if you want to say anything, but...

Terence: I don't remember specifically. I remember generally being asked the question, but the specifics of it have eluded me.

Kelly: Maybe it was if the alt text was included, because that was the question that I think Anne-Marie had in the chat. When you ingest images that have alt text, does that carry through?

Terence: It does. So if you ingest a text from Google Docs or from Word, as long as you use whatever application's alt text adding tool, that'll persist into Manifold.

Kelly: Then as we mentioned, the no authorship tools is a little bit of a downside for us in terms of offering unmediated work for us. This is applicable to any work we do, so this isn't just Manifold, but there's a lot of project management and time constraints, and so that's why we're definitely looking at this as a pilot project. We're playing around, so I'm just saying this because we haven't done anything really to the look and feel of our pages. That's pretty much out of the box, so just put that out there. If you look at mature Manifold sites, you'll see that they all have a very different look and feel and really customized, so that's a possibility.

We've been struggling with processes for peer review just in general, which is why we were trying to figure out this open peer review thing, and then we are also now starting to explore how different it is to have the OEN-hosted Manifold. We don't have the ultimate admin rights like people at OEN do, so we're not exactly sure what we don't see and what we do see, but we're just starting to explore that. So we're not quite sure yet the differences between those two things.

And then recent opportunities. This is not specific to Manifold. I just wanted to mention this, because it was really cool. We had a speaker on campus that wasn't talking about OER. She was just talking about student faculty pedagogical partnerships in general, and you guys should click that link and go check that out. She really inspired a lot of faculty to think about this, and the faculty that I knew that already knew about OER, it reinforced to them the whole student co-creation thing. So the social work welfare policy book that our faculty member is working on is going to include some student stuff as she develops that, so we're really excited about that.

The second really big opportunity I just wanted to mention. Affordable Learning Kentucky is our Affordable Learning Georgia, it's a statewide consortium that's working on expanding Open in Kentucky. We just submitted a IMLS grant, the focus of which is to develop a sustainable, easily adoptable and scalable open source platform to conduct peer review processes for OER, so stay tuned. We might be making a solution for something that could be used for peer review. And then another opportunity for us is adding Pressbooks to the mix, and I just share this for folks out there who are comparing sites. University of Washington has a really good comparison between Pressbooks and Manifold. Okay, I think that's it.

Karen: Thank you, Kelly and Laura, so much, and thanks for the conversation in the chat and all of the helpful links. I think it's worth highlighting, Jonathan was really trying to get at what is the essence of Manifold? Are we writing and creating in there? Are we importing and publishing from there? And so Terence and/or Robin, I just invite you to expand a little bit on what's coming in the fall, what's possible now. Terence, you said it really succinctly in the chat, but please say more.

Terence: Oh, yeah. No, I can speak a little bit to what's coming in the fall. So version eight, we are expecting to come out, I want to say September, possibly August, but I'm thinking September is the more likely of the two. But so what's coming with that version, we're going to have GDPR compliance, so there's going to be more privacy settings that we don't currently have. Those will be available in the system. Then we're adding the ability to delete your account, which for whatever reason we have some oversight on. But if you want to, that'll be now possible. There'll be a feature that'll allow users to have their... It's called pending entitlements, but basically what it allows you to do is to invite a group of people en masse to access restricted projects. So if you have a project that's restricted for whatever reason, you can invite people via CSV sheet to have access to that, so that's something new.

We're going to use that at Minnesota for our journals that are society related and who would normally get a gratis copy that aren't already OA, so that would be our use case at the press, but there's a host of other ways that you could put that to good use. But the big thing that everybody's excited for is text editing. And I can share my screen and I can show you a little of what that will look like. But bear in mind, this is on our testing cutting edge instance, so we might see some rough spots. So, let me share. Oh, and I was going to say one thing, you're absolutely right about the public annotations. You can't group those in a list when you're trying to access them from this notepad as a point of clarity. But if your users are working in the context of a reading group, you can see who's associated with each annotation and jump directly to them if you have them in a reading group. But if there's public, you can't see that because it could be a little overwhelming the other way. So there's that.

All right, so let's see. Here is a project in our cutting edge instance. This is Frankenstein. If I dive into this a little bit more, it's going to look pretty similar to what you already see, but the two new things you'll notice are sections and table of contents over here on the side. And if you click into sections, you'll see basically the spine of the text that you're looking at. So in this case, it's all the various different chapters that are a part of this book and you can select whichever one you want to be the starting point, so you'll notice this when you open an ebook reader. Sometimes it starts in the cover, sometimes it starts in the TOC, sometimes it's chapter one. Here, you can just click the button and make whatever section start.

But the more exciting part is you can click to edit it, and this will be your new view. It opens up this space, it shows as a rich text editor. If you want to, you can also adjust the HTML, so you've got a code editor as well. You can work directly in this interface and make changes. Say you've ingested a text and you realize, "Oh no, I spelled someone's name wrong or I put in the wrong date," you could easily now go in here and just fix it directly in the space and not have to go back to that source document and re-ingest it. The other big thing about this is that you can add new sections, so you can maybe get a public domain book and then you want to add a new section to it as a new chapter. You can easily do that.

So if you've got a student project and you want to add a new preface or some new apparatus around that, you just add a new section. And this, if we all remember from the Manifold training where we had that YAML project where we would synthesize the text from numerous sources, this basically removes that from the equation. That's still possible. We're not going to get rid of that functionality, but you don't have to worry about a YAML file anymore. It's all going to happen directly in the backend. So you can build the text either by adding as a section a document you've already got on your desktop, or you can author it directly into the system, and so that's the big feature that's coming with this. And along with this, this will also support MathML. So if you have complex equations, you can now write them in MathML and have them render and be annotated in the reader appropriately. So those are the big features coming out in version eight. And like I said, we're hoping for September.

Robin: You can also use those fun drag bars and drag and drop and reorder sections too, which is pretty cool. So if you're like, "Oh, wrong order," really easy to just grab and move those around, which is pretty nice.

Karen: Woo-hoo! I just had to verbalize that because, for those of us in the Manifold pilot group, and I'm sure across the Manifold community, this was a long-held dream, so this could be a very simplified workflow to be able to write and publish within that one tool.

Terence: Right. And especially for folks who want to bake in line various elements. If you've got a visualization or you've got a triple IF element that you don't want to have as a resource. You can do it as a resource and that's great, but if you want to have it in line with the text, now you can just edit the text and take the code you get from whatever site, copy and paste it from there and paste it in the HTML and you're done. So even if you are working with Word files natively, you can now do that.

Karen: Okay. While all of you are thinking of any questions you might have, I'm just going to go back to chat. Laura, I think this is while you were talking about some of the differences between annotating and Manifold and annotating using Hypothesis. And Tracy asked, "When using plugins, have you had any problems with third party technologies failing? And if so, how you handled that?" Tracy, I'll say that I think Hypothesis is used fairly regularly in the Open community and I don't hear many complaints. Has anyone here had issues with that?

Kelly: It's basically built into Pressbooks, right?

Laura: Yeah, and it's just a back-up of what Karen said. I have not heard of any issues with the plugin not working on the Pressbooks platform or anywhere else.

Karen: Thanks. And if I misunderstood the question, please let me know. One of the other things that Kelly and Laura talked about was that it's a little bit of a technical lift and that faculty typically need support if they're going to be working in Manifold. And so, Robin, can you talk a little bit about how you do that at CUNY and what's been successful for you? Because you have such a robust program and faculty are in there, they're using it, they're doing it.

Robin: Sure, I'd be happy to talk about that. So for those who don't know me and know who I am, so I am from the City University of New York, and I am based in one of the 25 campuses that make it the City University of New York, but I support all 25 campuses. So as everyone has mentioned, I have a very large group of people that work. Our instance is open to everyone affiliated with CUNY, so that's students, that's administrators, that's staff, that's professors, that's everybody. If you have some sort of affiliation with CUNY and you want to make a project, you just reach out to me and we make it happen. We do let folks come in very differentially from the way that Terence does it is we give people project creator rights to just jump in there and start going.

We currently have 690 projects on our instance, over 3000 texts, over 85,000 annotations. Our stuff is used by people all over the world because our instance is open. We don't know who's using it because we don't track anybody and we don't have that kind of capability to pinpoint IP addresses or anything like that, but we know it's used because occasionally I get folks from some random place in the world asking me questions about a particular thing that they're teaching in their school, and so it's really great to see that we've created these truly open resources that are being used globally, which is really exciting for us. That's what we always wanted. Now, to support all of this, because I am the only full-time person at CUNY who works on Manifold, much like Terence is the only full-time person that works on Manifold on the University of Minnesota Press, we have a lot to juggle.

For me, the most important thing has been to leverage relationships with the library. I'm a former OER librarian. I still consider myself a librarian, so I have a lot of connections and it's really important to build those, because there's no way I could support all of the people that want to use Manifold on my own. I do do a lot of training. I do training on site, so I was just out a few days ago at one of our campuses doing some training. So building up those train the trainer sessions too are really important. Getting the folks who might be your first line of defense for questions is really important. So for us, it tends to be the teaching and learning centers or the libraries. Those are the ones that generally support any of the digital platforms that we have at CUNY. So really getting in there with those folks, getting them trained up, even just basics so they can ask basic questions, and then organizing a regular, every semester, between semesters, coming in and doing a workshop, just a basic intro, showing people what you can do, showing them different models.

And then also, connecting people. I think that's the most important thing, much like this beautiful community we have here, getting those communities together so that people feel comfortable so that they can ask questions. Everyone I've ever worked with here at CUNY is always open to answer questions, and I may have even put people in this group in touch with other folks because we tell people this all the time. If you see a Manifold project somewhere in the world on some Manifold instance and you're like, "I want to do that," that's a great place for Terence and I to start helping you. If you say, "Hey, I saw this cool thing, how did they do that?" And so then we can help you and then put you in touch with those people.

So I think a lot of this, the lift can be a lot lighter when you've got a little support there, when you know can reach out to somebody. And no, you can't break Manifold. We've never had anyone break it, so you just get in there and play around. And I think the most intimidating factor, because it is such a powerful platform, because it is a professional platform, can be intimidating and overwhelming for people, but just know that there's so much to Manifold, but you don't have to use it in your first product. Don't feel like you have to do every single thing. You have to have a million calls to action buttons, or you have to have every single content block. It's easy to see all of that and go, "Oh my gosh, I don't need all of this," or, "I don't want it." It's just all there for you if you need it.

And we have simple projects that are just an ebook and they're that. They're the hero block only. Not a single other content block, not a single resource. And a couple of those books are the most popular books that we have on our instance, that are used just all the time because people read them and they have a reading group and they use them in the classrooms. Some Manifold projects are just audio. They have no text whatsoever, so there's lots of space to get creative. When people come in and say, "Oh, I've got this idea. Can I talk to you about these kinds of things? Is this a good platform for me?"

So I think, once again, just always going back to those relationships and getting people to understand what Manifold is. And hopefully, Jonathan, we've helped you understand what Manifold is, but also all those relationships within your campus of people that might be able to answer some questions. Definitely keeping a list of folks who created projects, and then even people who've struggled so that people can talk to everyone and hear about where things have been tough for them, and then maybe that can help the next person.

Karen: Thank you, Robin.

Robin: Yeah.

Karen: There's been a lot of chat in the chat and I wanted to highlight, I think it was Ann-Marie, who was talking about what's going to happen after the pilot and what it's like having your own instance at your institution. And I wanted to just come back around to the pilot group's role will be to recommend whether the OEN may continue to offer Manifold. And so Anne-Marie mentioned that at her institution, this is the one publishing tool they currently have, and so we really have the diversity of OEN membership in mind in terms of wanting to offer infrastructure, wanting to offer tools so that more people can publish even if there are fewer resources at that institution.

And so it's very possible that we will continue to have this OEN Manifold community well into 2024. And one of the reasons why we're sharing these case study sessions and the progress that we're making as a group is to offer you, the broader OEN community, the chance to think about and evaluate whether Manifold might be useful to you at your institution and whether, if there were an instance for the OAN community, if you think that you would make use of it. So, that is one of the goals of this session and others coming up like it. So just wanted to highlight that and to keep it in mind if you have any feedback about, "Gosh, that would be really helpful for us. We can't afford these tools on our own or resources are dwindling." That's the kind of thing that we want to hear from you, so we can try and problem-solve.

Jonathan asked if Manifold code is open source. Indeed, it is. And Terence put the GitHub link there. Liz, you asked if OTL includes Manifold projects and I'm racking my brain. I feel like surely in the 1200 or so books, there are probably some that point to Manifold and I think I can do a backend report to figure that out, but off the top of my head, I can't think of an example. If there's more to that question that you want to know, let me know and I can maybe provide more answers. I see you there.

Liz: Yeah. Not really. I was thinking that if I was doing a workshop and one of my folks was struggling trying to find something in the textbook library to review, if I could suggest one to be added if I found one on somebody else's site, so I was just curious. Thanks.

Karen: Okay, sure. Kelly's looking for one now. Thanks, Kelly. Other questions for one another or comments or things you might want to see, since we're here together and we have a few more minutes?

Robin: Also, I'll jump in and just offer any of the documentation that we built up, including our cue cards and things at CUNY, if you'd like to make those available to folks, feel free to point them to our incidents. Or if not, I can certainly give you access to the Google Docs that were used to make them, if you want. I think I made this promise to the other group once, Karen, didn't I? I'm not sure if I put the links in there, but all of that stuff is open and open for you to take what we've done, it's openly licensed, and then you want to put your own branding in there? Feel free to take those. So that might actually get you moving forward, being able to support people to have your own customized how to do this on Manifold guides. But you don't have to start from the very beginning. Please don't reinvent the wheel.

Karen: Thanks, Robin. Oh, hi. Go ahead, Jamie.

Jamie: Yeah, I was going to ask a quick question actually. I don't think this is a listserv that Robin and Terence are on, but there was a question that came in I think earlier today about Manifold, and so this is the perfect opportunity to ask since we have you both here. But the question was whether Manifold is compatible with Canvas in terms of being able to import your book into Canvas, I guess from Manifold to Canvas, they were comparing it to a process that Pressbooks has where you can import into Canvas from Pressbooks. And it's not something I had ever thought about with Manifold or have looked at any of the documentation. So I don't know if, Robin or Terence, you know off the top of your head, or import into any LMS, but this one was just specifically asking about Canvas.

Terence: There is no direct pipeline programmatically from Manifold into any of those systems currently, though anything that you bring into Manifold can, any text that you create in Manifold or bring into it, can be exported out as an EPUB 3. So at a project level, you can export that content and potentially just crosswalk it over to any of those.

Jamie: Okay, gotcha. Yeah, that's what I was thinking as well, because I know we've experimented with exporting the full project, but I hadn't thought about the ingestion into an LMS, so that's very helpful. Thank you both.

Kelly: And I vaguely remember during our pilot when we were having those monthly meetings, talking about H5P functionality, and I can't remember what came out of that, but I remember having those conversations.

Terence: Yeah, H5P can be added either as an interactive resource or it can be baked in line into HTML and mark down documents or EPUBs. And now with the code editor, you can bake it into basically anything.

Karen: Okay, thank you both. And Anne-Marie, yeah, that is a good question. I'm so glad Jamie remembered to ask that. It's the Google Group come to life. Before we adjourn, I would really love to take the quick temperature of this group. So after our time together, can you imagine using Manifold at your institution? Just at first blush, does this sound like something that can meet your needs that you would jump in if it was available to you through the OEN today, for example? If you could just put a Y or N in the chat, no one's going to hold you to it, but I don't want to lose the opportunity to get a sense of things. Oh, four exclamation points. I won't read too much into lowercase or uppercase Y, so don't worry about capitalization. It's really helpful. And no one wants to fill out another Google form right now, so we can just do it in Zoom chat.

Okay. Well, as you consider this, I will start our farewells and our thank-yous. Thank you, Kelly and Laura, for sharing your experience with us and for joining our pilot group in the first place. Same goes to our other pilot group members here. It's so valuable to learn from you and hear about your case studies and just get a sense of what you need to do and how you're trying to do it and how it's going, so thank you. And Robin and Terence, as always, thank you so much for your very supportive and generous help. It's made such a difference as we travel these uncharted waters together. And thanks everyone for coming to learn about Manifold and engaging with the OEN community. Hope to have another session or two of these case studies in the future and hope to see you then. And until then, best wishes. Thanks, everybody. Farewell.


Chat Transcript

00:22:52 Kelly Smith, she/her: Link to our slide deck:
00:25:40 Anne Marie Gruber: If I added alt text for images in a Google doc, do those stay once I ingest into Manifold?
00:25:57 Terence Smyre: Replying to "If I added alt text ..." They do, yes. Also for Word documents.
00:26:18 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "If I added alt text ..." Thanks! I made that assumption but hadn't actually checked.
00:26:48 Cathy Germano: Reacted to "They do, yes. Also f..." with ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
00:27:01 Nicole Welk-Joerger: Related, if you would have to edit a document, and re-ingest that project / file - do you lose the annotations?
00:28:11 Terence Smyre: Replying to "Related, if you woul..." Noโ€”Manifold will replace the annotations and resources where they were before. Unless, of course, the text they were attached to was removed.
00:28:26 Nicole Welk-Joerger: Reacted to "Noโ€”Manifold will rep..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:30:26 Kelly Smith, she/her: This is the Social Welfare Policy text:
00:30:39 Jonathan Poritz: I've always been confused about what Manifold *is*: you said before it has no text editor, but you are talking about a back end, and alt texts, and look-and-feel.ย  But also PDFs and "other resources" ... so is it a place to *create* OER or *host* them (after creating them elsewhere)?ย  Sorry for the basic question!
00:31:56 Kelly Smith, she/her: SWK 340 in Digital Commons : SWK 340 in Manifold:
00:32:33 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "I've always been con..." I see it as both, depending on the project. I mostly am working with faculty who are creating content in Google Docs, then I clean up formatting there & ingest into Manifold. My institution doesn't have Pressbooks or similar, so through the Manifold pilot, we have our only open authoring software platform.
00:34:09 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "I've always been con..." The best way to figure out what it is is to look at a lot of different fully fleshed-out examples. I can post a few here. You will see that all of the sites look different and have different types of content organized in different ways. Yet it has the embedded reader for the central text. I'll put a few links in the chat of sites I like.
00:34:27 Anne Marie Gruber: Reacted to "The best way to figu..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:35:20 Jonathan Poritz: Thanks!
00:35:27 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "I've always been con..."
00:35:47 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "I've always been con..." Great multi media site:
00:36:09 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "I've always been con..." Robust science text:
00:36:42 Tracy Marshall: Replying to "I've always been con..." When using the plugins, have you had any problems with the third-party technologies failing?ย  If so, how did you handle that?
00:36:56 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "I've always been con..." Hope this helps! I'm sure Robin & Terence can address further.
00:38:32 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "I've always been con..." @Jonathan Poritz I really like these open pedagogy examples (s/o @Robin Miller): And
00:38:51 Robin Miller: Replying to "I've always been con..." In a nutshell, Manifold is a digital publishing platform where you can create and host OER. A Manifold project may contain one or more texts and resources, including multimedia (audio, video, interactive elements).
00:40:30 Jonathan Poritz: when you say "create", you are imagining authoring text how...?ย  what format are they when loaded into Manifold?ย  GDocs? Word? Pressbooks? PDFs? HTML?
00:41:19 Karen Lauritsen: Replying to "I've always been con..." Jonathan, letโ€™s dig into this in a sec. There are some big differences coming in V8.
00:41:56 Terence Smyre: Replying to "I've always been con..." Manifold can ingest texts in EPUB, HTML, Markdown, GDoc, and Word (DOCX) formats. And in v8 (coming this fall) you can author directly in the system.
00:42:24 Annelise Doll: Reacted to "Manifold can ingest ..." with ๐ŸŽ‰
00:42:29 Jamie R Witman: Reacted to "Manifold can ingest ..." with ๐Ÿคฉ
00:42:39 Anne Marie Gruber: ETA on the Social Welfare Policy book? This will fill such a gap in SW OER!
00:43:08 Laura Edwards: University of Washington Library's comparison of Manifold and Pressbooks:
00:44:14 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "ETA on the Social We..." Oof. A while. She has one chapter, but now she's re-tooling the whole thing. 1-2 years maybe?
00:44:46 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "ETA on the Social We..." Ok. Thanks! If/when they might be looking for peer reviewers, let me know--some of our faculty might be interested in an opp like that.
00:45:17 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "ETA on the Social We..." @Anne Marie Gruber ^Yes! I will post something on the listservs when we have that set up in Pressbooks.
00:45:24 Anne Marie Gruber: Reacted to "@Anne Marie Gruber ^..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:46:16 Laura Edwards: thank you for noting that @terence!
00:48:11 Karen Lauritsen: Woohoo!
00:48:17 Jamie R Witman: Reacted to "Woohoo!" with ๐Ÿ‘
00:48:25 Kelly Smith, she/her: Oh, and I should have mentioned. Terence offers amazing support. And Robin is a fantastic resource.
00:48:26 Anne Marie Gruber: Wow. The YAML thing was intimidating to me, so this is a great development.
00:48:35 Karen Lauritsen: Reacted to "Wow. The YAML thing ..." with ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
00:48:36 Laura Edwards: exciting!
00:48:45 Jamie R Witman: Reacted to "Oh, and I should hav..." with โค๏ธ
00:48:47 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "Oh, and I should hav..." Truth!
00:48:58 Laura Edwards: drag and drop is awesome
00:50:04 Anne Marie Gruber: Manifold is right for my institution's needs. It's just a matter of figuring out post-pilot cost/hosting.
00:50:13 Robin Miller: Reacted to "Oh, and I should hav..." with โค๏ธ
00:50:19 Annelise Doll: Reacted to "Manifold is right fo..." with ๐Ÿ’ฏ
00:50:53 Kelly Smith, she/her: Reacted to "Manifold is right fo..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:51:00 Anne Marie Gruber: Have any institutions had to have Manifold go through a software approval process required by IT? We did not for the pilot, but would have to if we moved forward with more permanent access.
00:51:03 Kelly Smith, she/her: The cost is reasonable for us.
00:51:19 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "The cost is reasonab..." Can you tell me more, @Kelly Smith, she/her? Are you self-hosting?
00:51:45 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "The cost is reasonab..." @Anne Marie Gruber Let's schedule a zoom chat.
00:51:53 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "The cost is reasonab..." perfect. I'll email you
00:52:03 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "The cost is reasonab..." You're my Manifold soul sista
00:52:07 Kelly Smith, she/her: Reacted to "You're my Manifold s..." with โค๏ธ
00:52:40 Kelly Smith, she/her: Whenever I want to figure out how to do something Manifold related, I go look at Robin's site for examples.
00:52:48 Laura Edwards: Reacted to "Whenever I want to f..." with โค๏ธ
00:52:57 Jamie R Witman: Reacted to "Whenever I want to f..." with โค๏ธ
00:53:13 Terence Smyre: Replying to "Have any institution..." Yes: Delaware, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and a department at the Smithsonian have all done reviews along those lines over the past few months.
00:53:16 Kelly Smith, she/her: Their student class project collection is AMAZING: Student class projects:
00:53:49 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "Have any institution..." Pretty sure we did.
00:53:50 Karen Lauritsen: CUNY also has a collection of helpful quick guides:
00:53:59 Kelly Smith, she/her: Reacted to "CUNY also has a coll..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:54:04 Nicole Welk-Joerger: Reacted to "CUNY also has a coll..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:54:11 Cathy Germano: Reacted to "CUNY also has a coll..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:54:16 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "Have any institution..." Is any of that documentation public? I've found that my institution's IT is quite restrictive regarding what they will approve.
00:54:23 Annelise Doll: Reacted to "CUNY also has a coll..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:54:24 Jamie R Witman: Reacted to "CUNY also has a coll..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:54:56 Anne Marie Gruber: Replying to "Have any institution..." For example, they said we aren't allowed to publicize EndNote Click even though we're already paying for it. They had a security concern.
00:55:35 Anne Marie Gruber: Reacted to "Their student class ..." with ๐Ÿ‘
00:55:37 Morgan Briles: Replying to "Have any institution..." At University of Oklahoma, we did, but since we did the hosted version they didnโ€™t have any concerns
00:55:39 Jonathan Poritz: Is its code open source?
00:56:31 Kelly Smith, she/her: Replying to "Is its code open sou..." I think so yes. Or there's a hosted option.
00:56:38 Liz Thompson: Does OTL include Manifold projects?
00:57:56 Terence Smyre: Replying to "Is its code open sou..." Yes, I can confirm that Manifold is open source. Our repo on Github:
00:59:23 Kelly Smith, she/her: I'm looking for one lol
01:00:56 Karen Lauritsen: You did, thank you!
01:01:12 Kelly Smith, she/her:
01:01:55 Kelly Smith, she/her: hp5
01:01:56 Kelly Smith, she/her: ?
01:02:07 Laura Edwards: or import into any LMS ?
01:03:03 Anne Marie Gruber: Good question. I'm seeing campus bookstores putting course reading material directly in the CMS/LMS, especially when they are auto-billing students for textbooks (a yucky model, IMO). Some of these vendors work with OER better than others.
01:03:44 Jamie R Witman: The authoring update is going to be so fun!

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