OEN Expanding Manifold Community Access for 2024

Published on January 8th, 2024

Estimated reading time for this article: 3 minutes.

The Open Education Network (OEN) launched its Manifold Pilot in early 2022. Two years later, the group met its goal to experiment with Manifold, a web publishing platform, for a variety of open educational publishing practices. Yet we need more information! With that in mind, the OEN is extending Manifold access to the entire community until March 2025.

Read on for more details. If you’re an OEN community member and would like to request access, please go to our form.

Manifold Projects

The OEN was one of six organizations awarded a grant-funded support package from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2022. We launched the pilot group soon after, which benefited from the training and guidance of Terence Smyre, Manifold digital projects editor at the University of Minnesota Press, and Robin Miller, open educational technology specialist at City University of New York. 

The pilot group also supported one another, and even collaborated across institutions to create a Manifold Pilot Community Cookbook. You can browse recipes and a variety of other types of OER projects at manifold.open.umn.edu.

Case Studies

Members of the pilot community have stepped forward to share what they’ve learned so far with the wider OEN community. Kelly Smith and Laura Edwards at Eastern Kentucky University shared a case study about how they’ve leveraged Manifold at their institution for SWK 340: Social Work Research Methods OER Collection. The two decided, as part of their pilot experience, to move forward with their own branded instance at their institution.

Anne Marie Gruber at University of Northern Iowa (UNI) shared her experience with the larger OEN community in a case study as well. She showed us how much she was able to accomplish in collaboration with faculty and Manifold. “Manifold helped me support faculty in sharing their expertise freely with the world,” Anne Marie said. She also discussed how the pilot program became a springboard for supporting publishing at her institution.

”UNI previously had no OER authoring platform, but through the Manifold pilot, we have published six faculty-authored/edited projects thus far, with another forthcoming,” said Anne Marie. “The combined, total cost savings for our students will be more than $187,000 per year.” Anne Marie appreciates Terence and Robin’s support and is pleased that UNI’s Manifold content is in “a user-friendly platform with great features and accessibility measures.”

You can see the EKU and UNI case studies on YouTube.

Also in the spirit of sharing, Leanne Urasaki from Hawai‘i Community College compiled Our Manifold Journey: Notes and examples documenting the publishing of our first Manifold project. Leanne developed the resource to document the Hawai‘i team’s journey as they published their first textbook using Manifold. Her goal was to help others starting out with Manifold.

Pilot Assessment

Throughout the pilot and at its conclusion, the group offered their feedback through occasional surveys. Often, lack of time was the biggest obstacle to moving forward with Manifold project plans. Considering the constraints on people’s time, coupled with the often significant amount of time it takes to write and publish a book, it was difficult to draw conclusions. 

For those who did have the time to experiment, “Manifold was just what some people needed, but not the answer for others,” said Karen Lauritsen, OEN senior director, publishing. “And that’s no surprise. It’s one reason why we want to support multiple publishing pathways. But at the end of the day, it was difficult to make a decision about whether to extend community access to Manifold based on the group’s experiences, which was one of our key goals.” 

In addition, Manifold just released a significant new update (v.8). Among other new features, users can now edit their documents within Manifold. This was not previously possible, and Karen is curious as to whether this change will inspire people to leverage Manifold for OER projects and programs.

Extended Access

The OEN takes its cues from the community, and has committed to providing an additional year of Manifold access. (To request access, go to our form.) This time, Manifold will be available to all members of the OEN community and its affiliates. Instead of gathering feedback on Manifold through surveys, the OEN will determine whether to continue to provide access based on usage. In January 2025, if 10  institutions are actively using Manifold, the OEN will continue to provide access.

The additional year will provide participants with an extended opportunity to work on a variety of creative open education publishing, pedagogy and curation projects to meet the local needs of their communities. 

Contact Karen Lauritsen with any questions. 

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