A Domains21 Two for CUNY Tuesday: Manifold & OER as Open Infrastructure

This pairing is not only because I forgot to post an OERxDomains21 session yesterday, but also because I think Domains21 was secretly the CUNY IT conference I wanted to attend. I went back to the well of awesome that is CUNY’s instructional technology infrastructure more than a few times during the conference and the discussion of their work developing Manifold with Cast Iron Coding dovetails beautifully with the broader push for open infrastructure at the largest urban college system in the US. So, enjoy this double feature from Domains21 that highlights some of the most thoughtful, elegant, and politically charged edtech anywhere.

In this session Matthew K. Gold (CUNY Graduate Center) and Zach Davis (Cast Iron Coding) discuss the origins and various iterations of the next-generation, open source publishing tool Manifold (https://manifoldapp.org/). Born out of an experiment with the University of Minnesota Press, the origins of Manifold as an elegant publishing solution for scholarly monographs morphed into a dynamic tool for reading collaboratively around a series of resources often centered, but not limited to, the text. The focus on design and the simplicity with which texts can be ingested highlights the importance user experience when developing edtech tools.

In fact, Manifold speaks to the larger movement at CUNY in which open source infrastructure has become the bedrock upon which their OER initiative is built. It is a longer history of ensuring the tools that undergird public discourse and teaching and learning are not ceded entirely to the market.

As the pandemic hit higher ed across the globe the responses were often were grounded in reaction and panic, but at the City University of New York a long tradition of investing in local talent building open source solutions for creating online communities highlights the power of an alternative vision of educational technology. Both New York State and New York City’s investment in open education has not revolved around textbooks and things at CUNY as much as it has around creating and maintaining localized educational platforms where teaching and learning can and should happen online.

This conversation explores the ways in which the City University of New York has built out an open source infrastructure using tools like WordPress and Manifold, underscoring the larger questions around “why open technologies?” this a razor sharp attention to the broader struggle in higher education around funding the mission while acknowledging the long legacy of economic austerity and students and staff alike.

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