IMPORTANT: Exclusive Use of Brightspace for Online Courses

Dear Faculty,

I have been asked to send around the following policy and memo from Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Hensel. Starting in fall 2024, all online courses, asynchronous and synchronous, must be delivered through the University-supported learning management system (Brightspace). This also applies to the online components of hybrid courses.

According to Provost Hensel, she has given these documents to the University Faculty Senate and asked for comment by January 30th. If you have questions, please let me know and I will answer what I can. Comments and feedback would seem to be best provided to the UFS.



Andrew H. Sidman
Interim Dean of Academic Programs

Professor of Political Science
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

“I am a responsible employee”

Attachment 1: Policy LMS Use- 12.6.23

DRAFT – 12/11/23

Policy Title

Learning Management System (LMS) Use for Online Classes

Policy Statement

All online classes, whether synchronous or asynchronous, must be delivered through the University-supported learning management system (LMS) beginning in the first semester following the implementation of D2L Brightspace on a campus.

The University-supported LMS is CUNY’s only platform for delivery of online instruction that:

  • Addresses user data privacy under various privacy laws, including FERPA, GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, PIPEDA, ISO 27001, 27018, SOC 1 Type 2, SOC 2 Type 2, Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), and Security Trust and Assurance Registry (STAR);
  • Contains tools to assess, support, and improve accessibility of course materials to facilitate compliance with legal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Is integrated with CUNYfirst to facilitate automatic data transfers such as class rosters and grades;
  • Supports best practices framework for instructional design for distance education courses and programs, aligned with national standards (e.g., Universal Design for Learning);
  • Contains interactive features that foster student engagement and active participation;
  • Provides 24 x 7 x 365 support for faculty, students, and staff;
  • Records academic engagement for financial aid disbursement to confirm eligibility for Title IV funds; and
  • Enables reporting compliance for IPEDS, ADA, homeland security/visa status, and NC-SARA. 

Policy Owner

Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost

Responsible Office

CUNY Academic & Faculty Affairs

Contact Information

Academic Program Review & Policy

Approved By

Effective Date

By campus following the transition to D2L Brightspace.


Faculty, instructional staff, and administrators

Related Information

Attachment 2: LMS Use for Online Classes Memo_final


TO:                  Instructional Staff and Faculty

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

DATE:             December 11, 2023

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.

  1. 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Wendy F. Hensel

Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost