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Blackboard to Brightspace Migration

As you know, over the next two years, CUNY is transitioning to Brightspace as the single university-supported Learning Management System (LMS).

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 faculty will benefit from participating in training sessions and engaging with other provided resources, there is no mandatory training requirement.

A 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.

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 (

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 (
  1. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Student Success System, Adaptive Learning tool (LeaP), and Learning Objective Repository (LOR) might not be included in the original implementation. If not, it will be added in at a later date.

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.

Video conferencing tools, i.e., Zoom and Teams are incorporated in Brightspace.

After testing the the email options available, the University’s preferred email option “Course Mail” faced numerous challenges. As thus, the University has opted to use the “Send-only” email option. Send-only email allows users to send but not receive email. In Brightspace, after the email is sent, the correspondence will occur in local email accounts (Course Mail will be revisited in the future).

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.

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.

Brightspace is designed to support the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of course content. 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.