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Research Guides

Why Teach with Manifold?

Manifold is a digital book publishing platform that allows you to upload multiple texts and embed interactive media elements into texts. During Winter quarter, two instructors experimented with Manifold as a replacement for online discussion boards.  Students in the courses used private reading groups to converse about a text using annotation. Private reading groups allow the students and instructor to converse about a text while keeping those conversations private and only viewable to those in the private reading group. Instructors can see all annotations from the private reading group dashboard and can jump to each student’s annotation for viewing.

Course snapshot: Sarah Faulkner’s Rise of the English Novel, Fall 2022

  • 40 undergraduate students
  • Students created a collaborative annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice using Manifold’s reading group function
  • Instructor gave students an in-class workshop on joining a Manifold reading group and annotating a manifold text, and annotated Chapter 1 as a guide
  • Student feedback on using Manifold: “I thoroughly enjoyed using Manifold to annotate Pride and Prejudice. When I am reading, I write asterisks or brief comments in the margins when I come across a passage that peaks my interests, a passage that I have questions about, or a passage that just makes me feel. This is helpful in my reading, especially when I need to go back and look at a specific passage. But there isn’t a lot of concrete reflection or analysis that accompanies this marking – which is why I really appreciated being able to use Manifold to annotate the novel. I was able to dive into passages in a way that I can’t when I’m reading, and I made many connections that I don’t know that I would have otherwise. I’m definitely thinking about using Manifold further in my final project.”
  • Instructor feedback on using Manifold in the classroom: "I really recommend asking students to try making and sharing annotations in class. They are always hesitant about a new technology, so having instructor and peers support as they first try it out really increased their confidence! Also, I found that I did not need to assign them to read/comment on each others' annotations. They did this of their own accord, and enjoyed it far more than if I had assigned them to do so like a discussion board."

Course Snapshot: Regina Yung Lee’s Gender & Fandom, Winter 2020

  • 50 undergraduate students 
  • Students annotated an article from an open access journal
  • Project site
  • Libraries workshops with students: 1, introducing Manifold and how to annotate a text using private reading groups
  • Instructor feedback on Manifold in the classroom: “The students' experiences with Manifold indicate that they found it more intuitive for recording and sharing out close readings and critical textual analyses than Canvas discussion boards. Students' ability to engage directly with the text they were citing, adding links to relevant media, and commenting on each others' comments, led to a stronger affinity and familiarity with the texts under study. We ran one trial during class, and another as homework; both produced strong comments on the texts.

In an informal poll, students reported intuitive ease of use (once privacy settings had been clearly explained) and greater connectedness to their colleagues' responses as being Manifold's strongest assets. The TA grading responses in both Canvas and Manifold reported a subjective increase in quality of student comments made on Manifold.”

Course Snapshot: Beatrice Arduini’s Italian Culture & Politics, Winter 2020

  • 26 undergraduate students 
  • Students annotated an excerpt from a public domain version of Dante’s Inferno 
  • Project site
  • Libraries workshops with students: 1, introducing Manifold and how to annotate a text using private reading groups
  • Instructor feedback on Manifold in the classroom: 

“By commenting on passages of Inferno 26 students actively engaged with the text, and the fact that the public domain translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy was different from the one that we used in class lent itself to explore translation issues.”

Considerations for teaching

Using Manifold in the classroom offers students the opportunity to create scholarship in new and exciting ways.  As you think about teaching with Manifold, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • As you bring any digital tool into the classroom, always consider UCLA’s Student Collaborators Bill of Rights, “8. When digital humanities projects are required for course credit, instructors should recognize that students may have good reasons not to engage in public-facing scholarship, or may not want their names made public, and should offer students the option of alternative assignments.” Consider offering students an alternative to digitally facing public work. Matthew Kirschenbaum offers an example of this in his ENGL 759C BookLab syllabus. For more guidance on working openly with students, see UWB's Open Student Work guide.

  • Consider how public you want your course to be. You can set your course text to "Draft mode" rather than public mode to hide the text from the public. Consider student privacy when connecting projects to social media. 

  • Make sure you are abiding by Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines with materials added to your Manifold project. Check out the Introduction to Fair Use and our Copyright Guidelines for more information, as well as this guide to finding Open Resources. Any requests asking the Libraries to remove materials from your site due to copyright violation or exposure of protected information will result in the Libraries notifying the project owners and placing the project in draft mode until the issues have been resolved. 

  • Take responsibility for making your project accessible. You can find more comprehensive instructions for evaluating and improving your project’s accessibility in this UW-created Manifold Accessibility Guide (which is also a Manifold project itself!)

Additional Guides to Explore

More Information on Manifold