December 11, 2023

Message to Instructional Staff and Faculty

From: Wendy F. Hensel, Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost
Re: Exclusive Use of University-Supported LMS for Online Classes

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, over the next two years, CUNY is transitioning to Brightspace as the single university-supported Learning Management System (LMS). To ensure that students in our online classes benefit from its modern digital learning environment, effective with each campus’ transition, all synchronous and asynchronous online classes are to be delivered in Brightspace.

A variety of live and on-demand resources will be available to faculty during and post-transition, and D2L will provide 24/7 tech support to users for the duration of the contract. Training topics include Getting Started with Brightspace, ABC’s of Content, Engaging Learners, Assessing Learning, and Working with Migrated Courses. While I believe that faculty will benefit from participating in training sessions and engaging with other provided resources, there is no mandatory training requirement.

An LMS is designed to support the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of online classes. Its features also support enhanced accessibility and student learning in hybrid and in-person classes. Using the university-supported LMS ensures that students and faculty have access to a consistently maintained and updated platform with the broadest array of academic technologies that support teaching and learning.

As I have noted before, there are no new intellectual property issues created by LMS use.  The RFP to which D2L responded specified the following: The contractor’s solution must affirm CUNY’s ownership of data and faculty member ownership of their own intellectual property.  As has always been true, the intellectual property of faculty using D2L will be governed by CUNY’s Intellectual Property Policy (

Specific benefits for students and faculty of using Brightspace, including data security and reporting, are detailed below.

A. Expanded features and Improvements from Blackboard
  • Mobile-friendly, responsive platform and native mobile applications.
  • Integration with third-party tools (Zoom, Echo360), publishing platforms, Respondus, anti-plagiarism tools (TurnItIn) and more.
  • The Student Success System provides instructors with predictive analytic dashboards so they can quickly see at-risk students. This enables instructors to provide tailored interventions to help correct the student’s learning path earlier in the semester.
  • The adaptive learning tool, LeaP, determines gaps in a student’s skill set and then provides the right content targeted to each student’s specific areas of improvement. This smart engine dynamically adjusts and recommends content based on student achievement and progress through course material, which not only creates efficiencies for instructors, but also engages students and promotes their success by adjusting to their activities and needs throughout the semester.
  • Learning Objective Repository (LOR) contains resources and shared content within courses, disciplines/departments or schools that may be accessed directed within the LMS bringing content such OER, quizzes, study guides, model assignments, media or readings to students without exiting the learning environment.
  • Classic Content Experience details the content within each topic module allowing students to better plan their activities and assess their progress towards completing learning activities. Deadlines for activities, assignments and assessments are reflected in a calendar which enables students to manage their time within courses and term.
B. Integration with CUNYfirst
  • Official course rosters are automatically uploaded to the LMS prior to the start of the term. Adjusted class rosters are uploaded during the Add/Drop period.
  • With Brightspace implementation, there will be more frequent data load to LMS, reducing the time to access course material/content for student and faculty during enrollment peak periods.
  • Any updates made in CUNYfirst, such as changes to course schedules or instructor assignments, will be reflected in Brightspace. This will ensure that students always have access to the most up-to-date information about their classes.
  • Integration will enable automatic syncing of final grades from Brightspace to CUNYfirst. This will save time by eliminating the need to manually enter grades in CUNYfirst.
  • Combined data from CUNYfirst and Brightspace will provide a comprehensive view of student performance and engagement. We will be able to analyze this data to identify trends, track progress, and make informed decisions about curriculum and support services.
  • Users (students and faculty) will access both CUNYfirst and Brightspace using the same set of credentials, Single Sign-On (SSO), enhancing user convenience and security.
C. Enhanced accessibility
  • Meeting the needs of our students with disabilities and other individualized learning needs is critical to our mission. Ally, the tool that generates alternative formats that enable students to choose how to engage with the course’s digital content, is available only in Blackboard/Brightspace. Use of Ally supports CUNY’s compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that course content assigned within our programs is accessible to students with disabilities.
  • Brightspace provides accessibility features such as automated closed captioning.
D. Consistency and standardization
  • Enhanced consistency in interface and navigation structure makes it easier for students to locate and access course materials, assignments, discussions, and grades.
  • This consistency eliminates confusion and empowers students to focus on the content of the course rather than grappling with various interfaces and tools.
E. Centralized communication
  • Video conferencing tools, i.e., Zoom and Teams are incorporated in Brightspace.
  • The LMS acts as a centralized hub for communication between instructors and students.
  • Important announcements, updates, and reminders can be effectively conveyed to the entire class through the LMS, minimizing the likelihood of students missing critical information and promoting a strong sense of community within the virtual classroom.
F. Enhanced student engagement
  • The LMS offers a wide range of interactive features that foster student engagement and active participation.
  • Discussion boards, quizzes, polls, and multimedia integration provide instructors with tools to create dynamic and interactive learning experiences. Students can engage with the content and their peers in meaningful ways, promoting a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
G. Enhanced data privacy, security, and retention in compliance with federal and state laws
  • Brightspace is designed to support the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of online classes. Specific examples are provided below. Online courses delivered outside of the university-supported LMS lack the requisite level of privacy, security, and retention.
  • Higher Education Act (HEA), 34 C.F.R. §600.2, regulation requires that all classes offered as distance education contain regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and students, which can be tracked through the LMS.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title II, requires enhanced accessibility.
  • There are numerous state, federal, and international privacy laws that CUNY must comply with, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Using Brightspace enables CUNY to ensure data privacy and security for students in online classes.
  • CUNY is required to report student and online course data to various entities such as the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Homeland Security, Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Using Brightspace enables CUNY to provide accurate data as required.
  • Federal regulations require that students receiving Title IV aid, which includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans, and Federal PLUS Loans must attend class regularly and have verified attendance remain eligible to receive financial aid funds. Using Brightspace enables the Financial Aid office to verify attendance of students in online classes.

We look forward to working with all of you throughout this transition and appreciate your support of our students.

Message to Faculty

From: Wendy F. Hensel, Executive Vice Chancellor & University Provost


I hope that you all had a wonderful, restful holiday weekend with your family and friends. I am writing to provide you with an update on our system-wide transition to Brightspace D2L, our new Learning Management System (LMS). I am pleased to report that the transition is gaining momentum in key areas, and that new faculty resources are now available to everyone.

1. Update on Course Migration

First and most critically, the central Brightspace environment is now complete. In short, that means that colleges in Transition group #1 (BMCC, SLU, SPS, Hostos, John Jay, Medgar Evers, and Queens) are able to begin customizing their Brightspace environment (e.g., personalizing it to the college’s identity and preferences for the navigation bar, widgets, etc.). As you may know, we experienced some delays in our course migration as a result of issues on the D2L management side. Fortunately,  D2L has resolved these issues, and we are back on our anticipated schedule. The initial migration of courses from Summer 2023 will be completed by December 15 for transition groups #1 and #2 (Baruch, Bronx, Guttman, Kingsborough, City Tech, Queensborough, and York). Once that occurs, instructors can begin working in their courses to update them for delivery in Summer 2024.

Course migration for transition group #3 (City College, SPH, CSI, and Hunter) will be done in fall 2024 with courses being taught in Brightspace in spring 2025. Transition group #4 (Brooklyn, Journalism, Graduate Center, Law, LaGuardia, Lehman, and Macaulay) will follow with course migration in spring 2025 and course delivery in Brightspace in summer 2025.

2. Update on Support and Training for Faculty

There are many ways for faculty to begin preparing for the transition now. As of today, all faculty have access to Brightspace to create practice sites in the LMS, allowing faculty to learn and play in Brightspace with access to the tools and features CUNY has implemented at this stage of the transition. Instructions for creating a practice site can be found on the LMS transition website. The website also is being updated regularly to include recorded training sessions, archived communications, and our progress. Faculty have access to support provided by D2L through chat, email, and phone on a 24/7, 365 day/year basis.

In addition to these resources, Faculty in transition groups #1 and #2 are enrolled in the Brightspace Resource Course for Instructors. This self-paced training introduces the basics of course building, assignments, and quizzes, as well as resources to get started. Faculty will see the course in the dashboard when logging in at Faculty in transition groups #3 and #4 will be enrolled in fall 2024 and January 2025 respectively.

Brightspace Basics, a 4-workshop series, will be offered beginning in January and continuing through the start of the Fall 2024 semester for transition groups #1 and #2.  Workshops will cover the following topics: Getting Started in Brightspace, ABC’s of Content, Engaging Learners, and Assessing Learning. Workshop dates will be published shortly. Additional workshops will be scheduled for transition groups #3 and #4.  Working with Migrated Courses, an asynchronous workshop, will be available in spring 2024 to support faculty as they prepare their migrated courses for their go-live semester.

I encourage everyone to explore the extensive resources, including self-guided training, found on the web-based Brightspace Community. This resource can also be accessed by clicking the “Brightspace Help” in the upper left corner of the top navigation bar in Brightspace. All Brightspace training is voluntary but highly recommended.

3. Listening to Your Concerns

As we said at the beginning of this project, it is important that we hear from faculty and work in tandem to ensure the success of the transition to Brightspace. Based on input from numerous stakeholder groups, including the LMS Transition Advisory Team, USS, CTL Council, and the UFS FGL, the course navigation bar will be configured as fully editable, with the default navigation recommended by D2L. Colleges will be able to modify the D2L default to a campus-specific one and edit their Brightspace homepages as desired. Instructors likewise will be able to modify the navigation bar in their courses.

We have also heard some concerns raised about intellectual property and data ownership. I want to assure you that neither is at risk in our contract with D2L. The RFP to which D2L responded specified the following: The contractor’s solution must affirm CUNY’s ownership of data and faculty member ownership of their own intellectual property. As has always been true, the intellectual property of faculty using D2L will be governed by CUNY’s Intellectual Property Policy (

4. Thank You

I close with thanks to the LMS Transition Team, UFS, and all who are involved in this significant project. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to a smooth rollout as we go forward. I will update you as new information becomes available.


Message to Faculty: D2L One-Hour Brightspace Demo Webinars for Faculty

From: Office of Information Technology Services

We are excited to announce the first look into Brightspace at CUNY. We have partnered with D2L and CUNY to provide one-hour webinars to demo the Brightspace platform for faculty.

Please register at

Schedule of Sessions:

Wednesday, November 1, 1 pm
Friday, November 3, 10 am
Monday, November 6, 1 pm
Thursday, November 9, 12:30 pm
Monday, November 13, 1 pm
Wednesday, November 29, 11 am

Please email if you have any questions about these sessions.

Message to Deans & Chairs: ITS Brightspace Transition Information & Resources

From: Troy J. Hahn, Assistant Vice President & Chief Information OfficerQueens College, City University of New York

I trust this message finds you in good health and high spirits. It is with genuine enthusiasm and eagerness that I extend a warm welcome to you as we embark on the transition from Blackboard to Desire2Learn’s (D2L) Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS).

For information and resources related to the Queens College Brightspace transition, please visit our dedicated website: Brightspace Transition at Queens College | Brightspace Learning Management System | Queens College, CUNY.

Over the past several months, our dedicated training team has worked tirelessly to ensure that this transition is as seamless and stress-free as possible. We understand that any change of this magnitude can lead to questions, uncertainties, and even some anxiety. Please rest assured that we are fully committed to providing you with the necessary support and resources throughout this transition, with the ultimate goal of ensuring a successful and enriching experience for both you and your students.

We recognize that a transition of this scale, which may represent a significant shift in how you deliver your lectures through an LMS, can be both exhilarating and challenging, occasionally even frustrating. Both the IT Services (ITS) and the Center for Teaching & Learning (CETLL) understand the emotions that come with such change, and we want you to know that we are here for you. To facilitate this, we have created an MS Teams Channel called “Brightspace Transition – Faculty Support.” This channel will serve as a platform for active engagement beyond training sessions and departmental interactions. I strongly encourage you to utilize this space to ask questions and share your thoughts, as your queries often reflect those of your peers who may be hesitant to ask. It’s important to note that the Faculty Support Teams channel is an open platform, and you will need to join it independently; IT and CETLL will not assign you to the group.

To our esteemed Department Chairs, I would like to encourage you to sign up for your department’s virtual roadshow. This transition roadshow offers a valuable opportunity to discuss the transition within the context of your department and to address any department-specific questions your faculty may have. While participation is not mandatory, it is highly recommended for a more tailored and productive experience.

To help you adapt to D2L, we have designed a series of training sessions that will comprehensively cover all aspects of the new platform. These sessions will be tailored to accommodate varying levels of expertise, whether you are an experienced online instructor or new to online teaching. Sign-up opportunities for training sessions will become available in November. 

As we embark on this transformative journey, remember that change often brings opportunities for growth, innovation, and improvement. Your adaptability and enthusiasm are invaluable assets that will contribute to the success of this transition. We are committed to providing you with the resources and assistance you need, including support for video production, gamification, learning paths, educational technology, and design support, should you wish to explore these avenues.

Your dedication to providing the best education to our students is deeply appreciated, and we are confident that this transition will empower you to continue doing so effectively.

We express our gratitude for your unwavering commitment to excellence in education, and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with you in this exciting new phase.

We are ITS, and we are here to help. 

Message to Deans & Chairs: Information to Participate in the QC LMS Transition Team

From: Patricia Price, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Troy Hahn, Chief Information Officer

CUNY is undergoing a system-wide transition in its enterprise Learning Management System (LMS), from Blackboard to Desire to Learn/Brightspace (D2L/Brightspace). Selected by a University-wide committee, D2L/Brightspace will provide a contemporary and ADA-supportive teaching and learning interface across all modalities. Because Queens College is a proven leader in academic technology adoption, we have been assigned to Wave One of the phased rollout. Content will be migrated in the fall of 2023, and we will switch to D2L/Brightspace for Spring 2024 courses. Academic Affairs will partner closely with the Office of Information Technology Services and CUNY to provide faculty with a robust suite of orientation, training, course development, and tech support throughout the process. Communication is the key to successful change management, and we are committed to transparency, accuracy, timeliness, and inclusion.

Please consider participating in the QC LMS Transition Team (email your name and department to For regular updates, please check this website as well as the CUNY LMS Transition Website.

Please share this information with your faculty, including those who will be going on fellowship leave in the coming year. We will send communications about the transition to faculty, staff, and students later this summer, before the start of the fall semester.

Thank you for your cooperation and support.

Getting Started

To get ready for the move to the Brightspace environment, faculty are encouraged to do some clean up on their current Blackboard courses. Once cleaned up, it is advised that courses be backed up by exporting the course. Learn more about this HERE.

Office Information

Brightspace Learning Management System