Manifold Case Study: University of Northern Iowa

Published on October 12th, 2023

Estimated reading time for this article: 32 minutes.

Karen Lauritsen of the Open Education Network (OEN) recently welcomed Anne Marie Gruber from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) to discuss UNI's Manifold pilot project, Cornerstone (2nd Edition). They were joined by Terence Smyre and Robin Miller of the Manifold team and several representatives from the OEN Manifold pilot community.

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)
  • Anne Marie Gruber (Instruction and Liaison Librarian, University of Northern Iowa)
  • Terence Smyre (Manifold Digital Projects Editor, University of Minnesota)
  • Sheena Campbell (Student Services Librarian, University of California, Davis)

Karen: Hello, and welcome. My name's Karen Lauritsen. I'm Senior Director, Publishing, with the Open Education Network. Thank you for joining us today so that you can get to know our Manifold pilot community. Joining us today is Anne Marie Gruber from Northern Iowa University. She's going to discuss the Manifold pilot project, Cornerstone, the 2nd edition. And also joining Anne Marie are Terence Smyre from University of Minnesota and Robin Miller from CUNY, both from the Manifold team. They've been working closely with our Manifold group. I also see a few members of our Manifold pilot. We're also joined by Jamie Witman, our Open Education Practices Specialist who has been supporting the pilot as well.

So for just a little bit of background, it's been a couple of years now already since the OEN launched our pilot, and it is officially running through March 2024 which is, as you all know, practically tomorrow. And since that's coming right up, we are in the process of evaluating Manifold, and these case studies are part of that. We are hosting them and sharing with you what we've learned. In just a little bit of time, the pilot group will be informing our recommendations as to whether the OEN offers Manifold to the whole broader OEN community so that anyone who wants to publish can publish. You can browse the pilot communities projects in our Manifold instance, which I am putting in the chat or will put in the chat in just a moment. You can also read pilot updates on our blog. That's also where you will find the video and transcripts from today's session, and I will put that link in the chat in a moment.

In addition to our featured guests today and other members of the Manifold pilot, I know that some of you may have experience with Manifold, so please feel free to share your related experience as we move through the hour, questions you have about publishing in general. This is really a time that we've set aside for all of you as you're figuring things out locally in your context. So without further ado, I will hand things over to Anne Marie. Thank you.

Anne Marie: Well, thank you so much, Karen. I'm really pleased to be here and sharing a bit about our Manifold experience at University of Northern Iowa. I will screen share in a moment, but before I do, I wanted to put the slides for today's case study in the chat. So if you'd like to see the slides after the session, the link is there for you. So let me go ahead and screen share here. There we go.

So I'm excited to share a bit about our Manifold experience. So a bit of background on our institution. University of Northern Iowa is a regional comprehensive university. We have about 7,800 FTE. We recently embarked on a new general education curriculum. Our largest programs are in education and business, and we have growing programs in nursing and health-related fields, applied engineering, and several other areas. In terms of OER work on campus, that falls under the umbrella that we call textbook equity. So that's our campus-wide effort that Rod Library began in 2016, and that encompasses OER as well as other free and affordable course materials.

So I, for part of my role, am a textbook equity librarian. Primarily, actually, I'm a liaison librarian, so I'm our science librarian. I work with social work undergrad and graduate programs. The textbook equity part of my role is supposed to be about 20% of my full-time faculty FTE position. I don't count how many hours I spend on it. It could easily be 100% and then some, but officially it's about 20% of what I do. And I'm the only person in the library with duties related specifically to OER. We do have a scholarly communication committee on our campus that's run out of the library, but has some representation from the broader faculty, and I serve on that committee as well. That committee does some work with relation to OER and related things. So they're a group that sort of supports this work. But as far as actual kind of job responsibilities related to it, it's me, and a small part of me.

So why did UNI participate in the Manifold pilot? When the Open Education Network announced the pilot, I was really excited about it because prior to this we had no OER authoring platform. We don't have Pressbooks or similar tools at my institution. We don't have a funding stream for textbook equity on our campus or OER work. We rely on external grants and one-time funding. So for two years, prior to this year, we had some funding for authoring projects. This year we don't, so we only have some funding for course redesign to use existing OER based on the college deans' priorities.

But when I saw the Manifold pilot, we wanted to really grow what was going on with OER on our campus. There seemed to be interest among faculty in creating and adapting OER. So Manifold as a pilot seemed to be a good option for us. I also knew that OEN and the open community are great, and I really wanted to have that opportunity, as essentially a one-person OER operation here, to be able to make some deeper connections with folks doing similar and related work at other institutions across our community.

So when our institution applied for the Manifold pilot, part of the application was to say what project we would put in Manifold. What we applied with was not at all what we ended up doing. I'd worked with an instructor in our languages and literatures department who had been interested in an open pedagogy project. So that was the project we applied to the Manifold pilot, thinking that we would do, and that project ended up not panning out. So we did a different project which ended up being really great. So sometimes the best laid plans, right?

What ended up being our first Manifold project was an adaptation of seven existing OER texts for this first year course called First Year Cornerstone Integrated Communication. That course, which we refer to as Cornerstone here at UNI, is a year long course for first year students. It has high enrollment, so we have about 20 or 25 sections per year, and each section has about 20 to 25 students in it.

This is a course that includes both your basic introduction to oral communication and public speaking and also introductory rhetoric and composition. So both the writing and speaking kind of introductory courses wrapped into one. That's a year long. And it's a cohort model, so students are together through the whole year. Because it's all first year students, we also include in this course a lot of content related to student success, becoming familiar with campus resources, things like that. Faculty who taught this course, which is primarily taught by folks at the instructor level, they had already used OER in this course for several years, but they really wanted to merge and adapt them for our own needs here.

So in 2022, so about a year ago, that group came to me, those instructors, and they said, "We want to make a pretty ebook of these disparate parts of different existing OER." So I thought Manifold would be a good fit for that. The content already existed. In 2022, we had access to Manifold, the pilot had started, but as Robin and Terence know, Anne Marie chickened out on getting everything into Manifold for fall a year ago. I am the kind of person that gets a little intimidated by new software, and I realize now looking back, I should not have. The supports were in place to make it possible that we could have put everything in Manifold for this course a year ago, and I just wasn't quite there. So I will own that and claim that.

So last year I was able to basically create an ugly merged PDF from the content of the seven different existing OER that the faculty wanted to use. It was only semi-accessible, so we just weren't happy with the accessibility features of it. I needed more time to get used to Manifold features and options and figure out, when we're not starting with existing original text, how are we going to dump that into Manifold? So fast-forward to fall 2023 and we have what we're calling the second edition of Cornerstone, and it is in Manifold and it's beautiful and I should have done it a year ago instead of waiting until summer of '23.

The advantage to taking a little more time was, I was able to get more familiar with the Manifold interface and get more comfortable with the features on the backend, and the instructors then had time to edit the text. The first edition was 900 pages long, which is ridiculous for even a year long course, and the instructors knew that. So in summer '23, the instructors took on the task of making some really big edits to the existing content, and so they were able to cut out sections that they didn't use and they'd sort of workshopped it over the course of last year with their sections of this course. So they were able to work with me to edit that text, and then I was able to get it into Manifold. So it's not what we set out to do, but I think it's even cooler.

I'll look in the chat real quickly. That's on my other screen here. Just make sure there aren't any pending questions right now. Feel free to interrupt me with either chat or microphones. So I thought I'd do a little show and tell. In this particular Manifold book, it contains an introduction and 22 chapters. And then we also included, as a supplemental resource, our university's orientation guide. This is a nice resource that first year students get at orientation in the summer before they come in the fall. This is a first year student course, so they would've already been through orientation and seen that orientation guide.

At orientation, they get it on paper, but we were able to include that as a supplemental resource because it's a really great place to see, if I need tutoring, where's that office again? What's the phone number? All of those basic things about key services at the university, that's a good fit to provide to students in this course. Part of the course, as I mentioned, is learning to use campus resources to be successful.

As I mentioned, the instructor, faculty used most of their summer to do the edits of the content that came from those seven original OER texts, and I had one library staff member who worked on accessibility. So we wanted to make sure that we did a better job with those accessibility measures, things like using heading styles so that screen readers would be able to help navigate through different headings and subheadings. And also, we went through and added alt texts to all of the images. The original OER texts, not all of them had alt tags in the images, and so we were able to improve accessibility in that way in our adaptation.

We archived the book also in our institutional repository. So we've made a few tweaks to it since then, as faculty have said, "Oh, can you tweak this little part?" So what I like about Manifold, many things, but one of the things that's nice is I can readjust content when we make a change, and that's really quick and easy to do. For accessibility purposes and also to ensure offline access for students who may need that, we ensured that all the chapters are individually downloadable as a Google Doc, but also that the entire book is downloadable for them too.

So let me jump into the actual Manifold live. This is what the ebook looks like. So we wrote sort of introductory text for the landing page. The downloadable chapters and full book are linked here, and that goes to a publicly accessible Google Drive folder so that students can download if they need to. The instructors who edited this book worked with me on creating the structure, so they really laid it out as they lay out the course. So we have some introductory content with basics about the text itself. And then the parts here, foundations, research and understanding, invention, arrangement and so on, those really focus on the sections of the course content as they were already teaching it. So they provided to me the table of contents and where each chapter was coming from.

And then if they were wanting to make any edits, the instructors provided their updates. In many cases, it was cutting content that they don't cover from those original chapters from the seven OER texts that we were using as source material. So they called them their snips, and so the things that they were snipping out or cutting out. So they were able to provide me those edits. So what we ended up with was these chapters that really fit the way that our faculty teach this course, and it's a unique course in that it's a year long and essentially covers two courses of content merged together. And it's not that one is one semester and one is the other. Those rhetoric and public speaking content is really kind of woven throughout. So they really needed to do the edits to the content to make sure that we ended up with something that was coherent and made sense to the way that they teach it.

So this is the table of contents, and in Manifold, I incorporated each chapter as a separate text. That was helpful for us to be able to edit content as instructors worked on it. So as they edited content and were ready for me to put it in the book, I could do that a chapter at a time because each chapter is a separate text in this Manifold project. So if we look at, say, chapter four, just as an example, we really like the look and feel of the front end of Manifold. In Google Docs, prior to putting content in Manifold, we made sure that all of the headings were styled. So we have headings and subheadings where there are definitions of words in the text, we bolded those. Much of that was already done in the original texts that we were using as source material. The images stuck from that original content.

So the library staff person who worked on this in sort of the production phase was able to just ensure consistent formatting. When we took from seven different existing OER, it could easily look like a mess. And our PDF from edition one kind of did. But what Olivia, in our digital scholarship unit, did was ensure a consistent look and feel, so making sure that headings and subheadings were consistently formatted, making sure that we had alt tags with all the images. So we had more of a consistent look as we went through, even though we were merging from seven different source books.

So we ended up with this content that really fits the needs of the course. This unique course has a consistent look and feel. Yes, it's still quite lengthy. I think the full PDF is about 600 pages. So I think instructors will continue to modify and trim, but they can really try it out in their course this year and then make edits. As I joked with them, maybe it's an every summer update and it won't be quite as much work into the future on their end to do the edits. It'll just be minor. But they were willing to put in the time.

The other thing that I'll mention here is, this was not a project that had any funding associated with it. For the past two years, we have had some authorship funding for OER projects. However, this project was not one that received funding. So when the instructors came to me and said, "We really want to put this in Manifold," they'd heard from me that we were participating in the Manifold pilot, I said, "Are you sure? I cannot pay you for that time and labor?" Especially because they're primarily adjunct faculty or term faculty, I wanted to have that frank conversation about faculty time and labor, and they said, "We're going to do it anyway." So they did. We gave them as much time as possible. So in August, I was working with our digital scholarship unit in the library to make sure that we were getting the content ready in time for fall courses.

And I'll pause here. I seek Sarah's question in the chat, and I'll make sure I didn't miss any others. Did Olivia copy paste in, so our staff person in our digital scholarship unit, or is there an import feature? What we did, there are several options in Manifold, and I might have Terence or Robin jump in here too. What we did was take content from the original OER texts, put it into Google Docs, and then format in Google Docs. So we made sure that the headings looked good, and by we, I mean Olivia, she was our staff person who sort of volunteered to work on this in the summer and really did a wonderful job with it. So she was able to format heading styles, add alt tags, all of that in Google Docs. And then when she was done with each chapter, I ingested it into Manifold. And that's as simple as pasting in Manifold the public Google Docs link. That was it on my end.

So really, the formatting for accessibility took some time, but that was a priority for us. We wanted to make sure that all the images had alt tags and all the look and feel was going to be the same in terms of heading styles and so forth. We also knew we wanted to make those original Google Doc versions available to students in case they want to change the format or in case they need a downloadable option. We're in a state where broadband internet is not a given for all of our students when they're off campus, and so we wanted to make sure that offline use was possible too. So we used the Manifold option to ingest from Google Docs that we'd already formatted the way that we wanted them to be. Terence or Robin, do you want to jump in about Manifold ingest options?

Terence: Sure, I can jump in there. So there are basically five different kinds of file types that Manifold accepts into its reader. EPUB was the first one that we kind of scoped out because we were thinking of university press use cases, and that's kind of the file format that most university presses work in. And then once we had kind of plumbed those steps, we opened it up more to HTML, Markdown, which is basically like a light version of HTML, and then Word files in the DOCX format and Google Docs as well. That said, that's kind of like the current state of things. As of tomorrow, when Zach publishes the beta of version eight, you'll be able to author content directly in Manifold and edit existing content with a rich text and code editor in the backend. So that's something new.

Anne Marie: And I'm really excited about that because that means, yes, tomorrow. I didn't realize it was so soon, so that's exciting. But fixing typos and things like that will be much easier with that, although if I need to fix a typo now in the current version, I just change it in the Google Doc and then put that link in to readjust it, and it's 10 seconds or less. So it's not more work by any means, but that idea of editing in Manifold itself I think is nice. I'll talk about lessons learned related to version control. So that's something that we'll have to think about with at least here for any new versions or software that we're using for open authoring. It was going to be a release today, but Zach forgot his laptop at home. That's funny.

Terence: Yeah.

Anne Marie: That will go down in Manifold lore I think.

Terence: Yeah, just remember that Robin said it, not me.

Anne Marie: Oh, okay. Good to know. Are there any other questions while we're at a good question point? Okay. So I thought I would go through sort of my lessons learned. They're I think lessons learned for the whole project, but mostly mine. It really does take a village. So having another library staff person help with formatting and accessibility really was the only thing that made it possible for us to finish this project in time for fall semester. And I'll get to time and scheduling and faculty work in a minute about why that would be. But the idea that I'm a one-person publishing house is just not realistic no matter what software we're using.

So I think that's important to keep in mind for maybe smaller institutions like mine where we're interested in supporting OER authorship and we see lots of great examples, but we need to make sure that it's sustainable at our institution size and type with the staffing limitations that we have. And everybody has staffing limitations, but I think knowing that textbook equity is supposed to be 20% of my role, my library faculty role, it's hard to keep it in that 20% box when faculty are really excited about these projects. I also need to make sure that I'm keeping in mind institutional priorities. So I'm all in with open authoring, but what I'm hearing from upper administration doesn't match that. So making sure that we're fitting our program into the needs of campus, the priorities of campus, and a realistic picture of what we can do at an institution our size I think is really important.

Part of my village has been Terence and Robin, and they're probably tired of my seemingly stupid and endless numbers of questions, which I wholeheartedly appreciate. They were both trying to convince me last year a little before now that I should go ahead with 2022 and getting this content into Manifold. They were right. I just wasn't quite there yet. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, it would've saved me a lot of time to do Manifold right away. So that's all to say a growth mindset for myself as somebody who's new to supporting OER authoring projects. I need to have a growth mindset, right? And believe people who say, "Yes, it's really that easy." Put a link, it will render in Manifold and be beautiful. You're right.

I also will mention the Manifold Slack channel, really helpful. I'm not a big Slack user, but I sort of put the app on my phone again to get Manifold help up to the minute when I had questions, and that was really advantageous. Yeah, Kelly says the crossed out bullet points, I will get to those in a minute.

The other piece that I think are important lessons learned is, authors don't know what they don't know. And this is no judgment on faculty who are creating these things, but I asked faculty for this project to make edits directly on the Google Doc that we could all see, and some of them preferred to print a version and hand write their edits, cut this with a little arrow and then scan that and email that to me. So it was a good reminder in the software that some faculty prefer to use or the way they prefer to communicate might not match what I would prefer or expect, and I need to be flexible about that. But also, authors need to be really cognizant of version control. Because when we're making those changes, I might be getting changes in a different document from a different instructor.

They were each assigned certain chapters to work on, so there was no overlap there, but version control was a little challenging with a project that was a little complex in terms of where the source content was coming from, where I was getting edits from different folks, those types of things. So I needed to be patient about that. In fact, about two weeks ago, an instructor said, "Can you cut these other things?" Well, the semester has already started. Some students have probably downloaded parts or all of the book. So now we're introducing changes to the live ebook version, which I will reflect in the downloadable chapter and the full PDF downloadable book. But that version control piece is not something that's naturally part of the thought process for some instructors.

They might feel like I harp on it a lot, but I want to make sure all students are looking at the same thing, right?
Copyright questions, licensing questions. Since this was not a funded project, I did not do any sort of training and in-depth training or anything for the faculty. In some ways it showed because that knowledge of copyright and licensing for OER adaptation projects, they didn't have. So a few of the chapters have no derivatives licenses, for example, and they wanted to make some edits and I had to say, "Nope, we can't do that," and then sort of explain about that. So will I do some training, have an agreement with faculty who don't have funding in the future? I don't have a carrot or stick in that case for funded projects. I have a carrot, you're not going to get paid unless you go through the training. But I think in the future I will expect a little more in terms of upfront training conversation. Some of that can be asynchronous. I have a recording of my training from the funded projects that we've done where, "Okay, watch this first. It'll save a lot of headache." I think I can do that in the future for some of these unfunded projects.

The other piece I would say is many faculty here, and maybe most, I guess I would venture to say, they need anything that's going to save them time because many of our faculty are teaching overloads. It's challenging budget times. It's challenging in terms of staffing in departments. So they're doing this project because they have their students in mind first and they want to save costs for students. They want to have the best learning resources for students. But it's one of the many things they're juggling.

They also want to often work in a format they know, which is Docs or Word usually. So it's great that it's easy to dump content into Manifold from those formats and the others that Terence mentioned. They may want somebody to format in Manifold and get things ready to go in Manifold for them. Learning another software, even though Manifold is so easy, it might just be too much for faculty. So I'm always happy to be the one who's working with Manifold and letting faculty create content or adapt content.

Our faculty needs summer and break times to write and edit. That really led into timelines that made it a little tricky to get things ready for a fall, August 26th start date or whatever that start date was. But I wanted to make sure that faculty had ample time when they're not teaching a bunch of classes to work on their project.
I mentioned professional editing and course releases because those are things that projects like this would really benefit from. But I did the strike-through because we simply can't provide those at this point at my institution. And we're upfront about that. Upper level administrators have asked about what's the quality control, and we don't have the time or the staff capacity to offer professional editing.

For projects that do get mini-grant funding through Rod Library here, authors can set aside funding for professional editing, and we have had projects do that, but they will have to work with an off-campus contractor for that so we can support that option. I'm chuckling a little bit because my side hustle in life is professional editing, so it's not a conflict of interest. I will not do that for these projects, plus I'd never sleep at night if I only did that piece and worked on OER authoring. So I wish we could provide those things. We simply can't.

We have several other UNI-authored OER projects that we have, since our Cornerstone project, ingested and produced in Manifold. So these three are mini-grant funded projects that started last year. Media and Power is a legacy project of a faculty member who is soon to retire, and it's really incredible. Elements of Creative Writing has a really unique kind of local connection here. It's written by the editors of the North American Review, which is the country's oldest literary magazine, and it's published at the University of Northern Iowa. And the three faculty who wrote this Elements of Creative Writing OER text are the editors of NAR. So the example writings in that Elements book come from the pages of the North American Review with author permission. They're copyrighted, no derivatives. But actually, all rights reserved, we kept on those materials, but they're used with author permission. So it's a pretty exciting work with that local connection too.

And then our social work faculty did sort of a handbook to secondary data analysis that lets them more easily use existing OER textbooks related to social work research at the graduate level. Those existing works didn't have a lot of depth about secondary data analysis, which our graduate students and social work are required to do. So those are the three projects that are completed, that got funding last year through our mini-grant program with one-time provost funding. We have two forthcoming projects that are kind of in production stages. Authors are finishing up writing, and then we'll be working on getting those into Manifold or whatever is after Manifold. So technology and language education and public administration. So those are the other projects. Thanks, Jamie, for putting the links to those in the chat if folks want to check out those three completed works.

I'll mention with Media and Power, that's sort of a preview version. It's mostly complete, but there are a few things that we're still adding. It's being used this semester, so we're finishing bits of it as students are using it, which is exciting, so we can incorporate some of their ideas. All three of these completed books are being used in the current semester in our courses here, and certainly could be used beyond that. In the slides here, each of the book covers of the completed books linked to the Manifold version of that book.

So I think that's all I wanted to cover in terms of the case study. What we're going to do next, because we don't have funding for authorship this year or probably into the future, we'll support some small unfunded projects, an anthology, for example, of public domain works that an instructor wants to do. We'd like to continue improving accessibility for existing OER that our instructors are using. There's some interest from our student accessibility services office in improving accessibility for OER that faculty are already using, adding alt tags to images, things like that. So Manifold would be a potential way to do that.

This year we do have a little funding for course redesign, so that'll be more about OER adoption rather than authorship, but there might be some small adaptation projects that come out of that. We'd like to continue advocating for consistent funding. It's really one time or external funds at this point. There's a lot of interest for faculty, and so trying to advocate for that consistent funding for OER projects will be important moving forward.

And then because the Manifold Pilot is coming to an end and my institution doesn't have any other OER authoring software, we want to make sure that we have long-term access to some authoring software, whether that's Manifold or Pressbooks or some other tool. So I'm in communication with the library dean and others about planning for that. I am on the Manifold or bust bandwagon because it's the only OER authoring platform that I have ample experience with, and I find it so user-friendly, the support has been wonderful. I think it's a good fit for my institution. So I guess I'll end with Manifold or bust, and open it up to questions.

Karen: Thank you so much, Anne Marie for walking us through these last few years with you. It was really fun to hear your stories and just your innermost thoughts as you figured out how to do all this. It was really, really enjoyable.

Anne Marie: I didn't share all my innermost thoughts, only a few of them.

Karen: Let's see. As people think of their questions, I did want to ask you. Before we officially started today and hit record, we talked a little bit about the work that you did and people in the library did and that there were also faculty who had direct access to Manifold and were doing some work themselves. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about how that went as well as some of the annotations I mentioned, or excuse me, that I noticed in Cornerstone and some of the other projects.

Anne Marie: Yeah, great question. So the first thing I would say is, let's see, Rod Library is publishing 11 OER books in a three-year period ending tomorrow. About six-ish of those will be in Manifold. Of those, how many did faculty do the Manifold pieces? So far, one, and that's not the Cornerstone one I showed you. It's the Elements of Creative Writing. The faculty who did that project, I provided the option to all of the faculty on all of these projects and said, "I'm happy to do the Manifold piece." And the way I would say it to them is, I can do the backend stuff and make it look pretty, and Manifold gets all the credit, not me, but it really was up to faculty. So for the Cornerstone project, it was really clear that the faculty wanted to make the edits in whatever format they wanted, even if that was handwriting on the PDF they'd printed out or on a Google Doc version or something. But they wanted to hand it over to me and have me do the Manifold parts, which was absolutely fine.

That's been the case for most of the faculty projects. That Elements of Creative Writing was really the exception, and that was simply because the faculty on that project said they wanted to give it a try. They met with me for some basics in Manifold, and then they tried it and they liked it and they found it so easy that they kept doing it. So they were able to ingest their own content into Manifold. That's sort of the CUNY model of like, "They did it." I did a few kind of prettying things up, but for the most part, for that project, the faculty did that.
In fact, Rachel Morgan, the faculty member who was kind of the Manifold guru for that Elements of Creative Writing text did things in Manifold I hadn't done.

So adding resources that lived outside the text, but in Manifold, adding them at various places in the text, that was something I knew Manifold could do, but I hadn't done it myself. So that team of authors made that happen. We found with that team that they were willing to try and they did it, and it was so easy that there were no problem areas. They had a couple questions about, can Manifold do this? But no hiccups or problems whatsoever when faculty did it. So yeah, here we give them the option of, do you want me to be the Manifold person? And mostly faculty have worked with us in that way.

As far as annotations, we leave it up to the authors if they want to allow public annotations in Manifold or not. So far, everybody has kept that on except the Essentials of Creative Writing. They decided to turn it off, and I'm not sure why. The semester had already started. So I just did it quickly and we didn't have an in-depth conversation about that change that they desired. But I'm seeing lots of highlighting, annotations, all of those things.

I can tell in the Cornerstone book where we are in the semester based on which chapters have engagement going on. So, "Gosh, lots of students have highlighted up through chapter five. Okay, they haven't gotten to chapter six in class yet." So you can kind of tell, at least that's where I'm surmising that they have gone with their content in that course. So that one has big numbers because it's a big class, it's a high enrollment class. 20 to 25 sections of 20 to 25 students each, do the math, so lots of students are engaging with that Manifold text.

I don't know whether instructors are using the reading group feature. I mention it to faculty when we do put projects in Manifold, that they can have their section, have them log in and use that reading group feature to see each other's annotations. There's some interest in that, but I don't know if anybody's using it in that way yet. I put it out there, and they might be. I don't know that I would even know. I guess I could look and see if there's reading groups formed for particular books. But yeah, hopefully that helps you see behind the curtain a little bit.

Karen: Thank you. Are there any questions from the group?

Anne Marie: Or lies I told that Robin and Terence will quickly correct.

Karen: Yes. Sheena.

Sheena: Hi. So thank you so much for the presentation and for getting me excited about Manifold. I'm at a University of California campus, and we're interested in the possibility of using our eScholarship repository in combination with Manifold. Right now I'm sort of envisioning using it with a faculty member who would have their Portuguese textbook in eScholarship, and then we would hope to maybe use Manifold to include things like quizzes and videos for the students to interact with.

I think the part that I'm not entirely clear about is, I'm sort of envisioning that when I went to the Manifold site, that the hosting of the text, that's what we would rely on eScholarship for. And then Manifold enables the instructor to then insert videos, quizzes, audio, files for the students. So the part that is not entirely clear to me is how the authors work within the Manifold platform. From the chain of questions, it seems like it may be possible to make edits in Manifold. So Manifold is pulling in the text and then the instructor would then be able to insert these sort of interactive components into the textbook, and then students access the textbook online via Manifold. Is that a correct understanding of how this might work?

Terence: Yeah, pretty close. So the idea there is a little bit different slightly. So you would take the content from eScholarship and port it over into Manifold somehow. I'm not sure. I'm not super familiar with what kind of export functionality you might have there, or if you just take the source files that you use in eScholarship and then use them again in Manifold, but you would create the source text that's going to function as the base layer.

Once that's in Manifold, beginning with version eight, you would be able to look at that in a rich text editor or a code editor and insert elements that are along the lines that you're just describing. So you could insert the embedded code for some H5P or some other iframe materials and have those appear in line with the body text so that students could engage with it that way, or audio and videos. Or if you wanted to take a more lightweight approach, Manifold has the ability to, if you think of the text as being the base layer and comments and annotations as being another layer sitting on top of that, you can also add media resources as yet another layer that would sit on top of those. And that can be audio or video or H5P or things along those lines.

So if you didn't want to actually get into the nitty-gritty of adjusting the source code of the text or having to deal with a code editor or rich text editor, you could just add the resources and then place it in the text. Literally, you just highlight the passage of text you want to associate with the resource, and then you select the resource you want, and it just drops them there like a little cube marker. And it's kind of functions the same way like a bibliographic footnote site, but instead of pointing to a reference, it's pointing to a resource, a media resource. Does that make sense?

Sheena: Yes, thank you so much. We have this example of our medical school using Manifold for a sonogram open access.

Terence: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Sheena: So that is an example where the open access book is in the PDF in eScholarship. And then they were able to add sonogram videos via the Manifold platform. So we thought that it would be somewhat similar, but we're confused about the role of editing within the Manifold platform. But it sounds like that is how it would work with, like you're saying, with the use of iframes added into the online accessible text.

Terence: Yep.

Anne Marie: The only other thing I might add would be, we use our institutional repository to archive the text of all our OER projects that are authored at UNI. So when the finished version is in Manifold, the finished version is also in our institutional repository. So when version eight comes out tomorrow, now we can edit in Manifold, those versions might be different, so we'll have to think about that, right? You have a dynamic ebook that can be edited on the fly, but we use our IR as a snapshot of, here's one edition. It's sort of an old school publishing model matched together with a new school publishing model.

But for us, the up-to-date version would be in Manifold. The archived at one point in time version would be archived in the IR, and we would also link from the IR record to the live version the ebook in Manifold. So that's the way that we're kind of conceptualizing versions. And I care about version control more than your average human probably.

I see Melissa's question, can Manifold also serve as an institutional repository? So their institution is looking to start both an IR and an OER publishing platform test cases. Terence or Robin?

Terence: We don't usually think of Manifold as being an IR. We usually think of it more as something that's going to be like what you described, or it's going to partner with an IR where you can export your content. And Manifold is more of the live display engaging platform. And then you can push that content for preservation to your IR, whether that's on your campus or if it's Portico or some other institution.

Anne Marie: And I would wonder too about IR metadata standards, that might be quite different than metadata options in Manifold, but I don't work on the back end of our IR here.

Terence: I don't think you're wrong there at all. Manifold's part of a digital preservation grant as well that's being led by NYU. And we're also working with Michigan and their full core platform. So those are standards and whatnot that we're all working collaboratively on right now to try and solve as a community.

Anne Marie: Good questions.

Sheena: And I'm so sorry to jump in again. With just this exciting news about the rich text editor, that I imagine would enable you to just import a variety of different file types, but then be able to edit them within the Manifold platform.

Terence: Right. That's correct. You can do five. You can do the EPUB, HTML, Markdown, Google Docs, and Word Docs. Those all five will come into the system, and those are the ones that you can edit.

Anne Marie: Are there other questions? Great. Well, thanks so much. I would repeat that I'm on the Manifold or bust bandwagon. I think it's a good fit for our institution. Such a simple, pretty user-friendly platform both on the front end and the backend. So yeah, if institutions are considering it, I think for a variety of institution types, it has a lot of potential.

Karen: Thanks again, Anne Marie, and thank you, Robin and Terence, and everyone for joining us for this conversation where we learned that tomorrow is the big day, version eight is on its way, and that is indeed a pretty big and exciting deal. If any of you are thinking about your publishing programs and whether Manifold could be a fit, don't hesitate to reach out. As I mentioned, we are looking very closely at this right now, so it's a great time to share your questions and your case studies. And I'll just drop my email in the chat. Feel free to reach out. That's all for now. Best wishes with your weeks, and look forward to seeing all of you again soon. Thanks again.


Chat Transcript

12:03:27 From Jamie R Witman :
12:04:13 From Anne Marie Gruber : Slides for today's case study:
12:04:32 From Karen Lauritsen : Here’s our Manifold blog documentation:
12:06:40 From Karen Lauritsen : There will be time to chat, but please also feel free to drop your questions in chat as you think of them.
12:12:16 From Karen Lauritsen :
12:19:56 From Sarah Hare : A clarifying question: did Olivia copy/paste in or is there an import feature (from someone that knows almost nothing about Manifold!) that she cleaned afterward?
12:24:20 From Karen Lauritsen : TOMORROW!?
12:24:24 From Jamie R Witman : Reacted to "TOMORROW!?" with 👏
12:24:26 From Morgan Briles : I was going to ask when 8 was coming out
12:24:33 From Corinne Guimont : Reacted to "TOMORROW!?" with 👏
12:24:49 From Terence Smyre : V8 Beta tomorrow. Release candidate next week. Final, fingers crossed, the week after.
12:25:00 From Jamie R Witman : Reacted to "V8 Beta tomorrow. Re..." with 🤩
12:25:04 From Terence Smyre : It was gonna be today, but Zach forgot his laptop at home today that he needs to do the release.
12:25:09 From Morgan Briles : Reacted to "V8 Beta tomorrow. Re..." with 🤩
12:25:13 From Jamie R Witman : Reacted to "It was gonna be toda..." with 😂
12:27:59 From Terence Smyre : Not at all!
12:28:04 From Robin Miller : Never!
12:28:14 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Those two crossed out bullet points - same here.
12:29:03 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Um. I totally forgot about that!
12:29:43 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Yes. omg. Yes. It's a challenge
12:30:49 From Sheena Campbell : Do edits in the Google Doc result in ‘live’ changes to the Manifold chapters?
12:31:11 From Terence Smyre : Replying to "Do edits in the Goog..."

No. That requires a “re-ingest.”
12:31:19 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Sheena, it's not an automated connection. You have to re-upload any changes.
12:32:36 From Sheena Campbell : Replying to "Do edits in the Goog..."

Thanks! And edits to the text are not made in Manifold, right?
12:33:19 From Terence Smyre : Replying to "Do edits in the Goog..."

Currently no. Going forward that will be possible, though not required. We always like to give folks options that align with their needs and workflows.
12:34:51 From Sheena Campbell : Replying to "Do edits in the Goog..."

Gotcha! We’re trying to determine the best tool/workflow for faculty to ‘remix’ content before publishing
12:35:56 From Jamie R Witman :
12:36:08 From Jamie R Witman :
12:36:25 From Jamie R Witman :
12:39:24 From Terence Smyre : Replying to "Do edits in the Goog..."

Very cool. Manifold’s reading group function is another way to remix content by sourcing materials from different projects across an instance into one reading group home page that students can easily access.
12:41:15 From Anne Marie Gruber : Slides from today's case study:
12:50:14 From Anne Marie Gruber : I always appreciate seeing Manifold examples.
12:51:35 From Melissa Chim : Can Manifold also serve as an institutional repository? Speaking as a librarian from an institution looking to start both an IR and OER publishing platform!
12:52:18 From Kelly Smith, she/her : That's what we do at EKU too. I can share an example of a book we have in both places.
12:52:38 From Terence Smyre : @Sheena Campbell Justin Gonder is the lead Manifold person on that CDL project. He would be a good contact to reach out to, and we’d be happy to talk through this in more detail as well if that would be useful.
12:53:50 From Kelly Smith, she/her : EKU Social Work 340 in Digital Commons IR:
12:54:04 From Melissa Chim : Great, thank you for clarifying!
12:54:14 From Kelly Smith, she/her : SWK 340 in Manifold:
12:54:33 From Robin Miller : Here is an example of a project that keeps multiple versions of a book visible in the project
12:54:44 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Reacted to "Here is an example o..." with 👍
12:55:10 From Kelly Smith, she/her : That version control example is great! Thanks Robin.
12:55:21 From Jamie R Witman : Reacted to "Here is an example o..." with 👍
12:55:31 From Robin Miller : Reacted to "That version control..." with 👍
12:55:59 From Anne Marie Gruber : Feel free to reach out as needed:
12:56:01 From Sheena Campbell : Thanks so much! Its so helpful to see case studies to see how this works
12:56:06 From Kelly Smith, she/her : Reacted to "Thanks so much! Its ..." with 👍
12:56:07 From Karen Lauritsen :
12:56:11 From Melissa Chim : Thank you for a great presentation!
12:56:22 From Jalyn Warren (she/her) : Thank you! 

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