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Last updated August 5, 2020, 10:00 a.m.


This site provides faculty with guidance in the event of an emergency situation that requires the College to transition to distance education.

Below you can find information on how to get ready for the transition, tools you might use to work with your students, the most recent guidance from the CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost, and where you can go for help and support.

Things to Do Now

Make sure you can log into all the City Tech and CUNY systems that you might need to access from your home computer and other devices (City Tech email, Office 365, Dropbox, CUNYFirst, Blackboard, OpenLab, etc.). Store your passwords in a secure place.

Make sure you are using the latest versions of browsers to be able to access various CUNY websites. Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are recommended for most applications.

Make sure you can access library materials from home.

Make sure that you have saved your course teaching materials so that you can access them off campus.

Reach out to students to reassure them about the shift to online coursework.

Make sure your students know the best way to reach you in the event that the College closes (email, voice mail, personal phone, etc.). Make sure you have your students' contact information too.

Survey students in your courses to ask whether they have access to technology and an internet connection off-campus for completing their coursework online.

Make a Plan for Teaching Remotely

Contact your department chair or course leader for specific guidance. Other faculty within your department experience in distance education may be available to provide assistance.

Assess Your Course

As a first step, faculty should look at upcoming assignments to determine what could work in an online format. Writing assignments, class discussions, and video presentations can be moved online using the applications listed here, and other assignments may be viable online with alterations. The resources and tools below can help with this decision process and guide faculty to appropriate technology options.

Note that online students need a good deal of support from you and interaction with their peers to feel a sense of connection, learn the material, and not fall behind.

Review Tools and Methods for Distance Education

Determine which tool(s) you will need to use distance education. You will need to:

1. If you have not setup a means for distance learning as of yet, you can download your course roster from CUNYfirst. The roster will include the student's email and their CUNYfirst ID. You have the ability to directly email the students from CUNYfirst or to download the contact info and use different tool.

2. The following tools can help you communicate with students:

  • Blackboard — If you have setup your course using Blackboard, use the Blackboard Announcements to communicate with your class.
  • OpenLab — Use your OpenLab course > Membership to message the entire class or individual students.
    Use your OpenLab course to post announcements, updates, recaps regularly.
    Use your OpenLab course to start a discussion topic.
    Use your OpenLab course site to create a post and request comments.
  • Email —If your course is setup in Blackboard or OpenLab, you can email students in your entire class or individually. If you have not setup Blackboard for your course, you can email your students through CUNYfirst Faculty Center. Alternatively, you can also email you students directly from your College Exchange E-mail.

Blackboard —If you have setup your course using Blackboard, you can distribute course materials via Blackboard. You can also use the Blackboard assignment tool which allows students to upload their work and organizes it in the Blackboard grade center for your review.

OpenLab — You can distribute course materials and students can submit their work through the OpenLab using the Files feature, by posting to the course site, or by integrating a Dropbox link or form. Students can create ePortfolios on OpenLab and post their work for collection and feedback.

Email — You can distribute course materials to students via email and you can have students email you a file containing their assignment. Be mindful of the size of the file and the type as the College email system will restrict certain types of files and sizes.

In all cases, be sure to follow best practices for copyright and accessibility; see Library Resources below for more information.

Blackboard— is the College's Learning Management system. Through the use of Blackboard tools, you can create a fully online course. Blackboard allows you to have your course material online, create and assignments and exams, collaborate with students and hold real-time video conference lectures. Faculty User Guides.

OpenLab — The OpenLab allows you to present your course material online, create assignments and exams, and collaborate with students using blog posts, comments and discussion forums. You can also use Webex to supplement your OpenLab course for real-time video conferences.

MS Teams — is a City University collaboration suite that allows you to share course content, collaborate and hold video conferences. User Guides.

Blackboard — If you are utilizing Blackboard, you can create exams, quizzes and tests through Blackboard.

OpenLab — Use OpenLab's WordPress plugins to create online quizzes and the OpenLab Gradebook for grading and comments.

Utilize alternative assessment methods — Consider using writing assignments or other student projects in lieu of exams. These types of assignments engage students and may be simpler to manage in the event of a temporary disruption.

Blackboard — If you are utilizing Blackboard, you can use the Gradebook feature to communicate grades to your students.

OpenLab — If you are utilizing OpenLab, you can use posts, comments and ePortfolios to provide feedback on student work. Use the OpenLab Gradebook to communicate private student grades and comments.

As you familiarize yourself with the tools and methods available, consider:

    Your comfort using the technologies concerned;

    The structure of your course;

    Student needs;

    The requirements of the content you use - books, pdfs, multimedia;

    The assignments and assessments typically used in the course, and the limitations caused by the shift in modality of teaching;

    Most importantly, we encourage you to set reasonable expectations for success and be sensitive to those who may have limited access to technology tools and the internet. Keep in mind that the availability of computer labs, libraries or other resources may be limited.

Finalize Your Teaching Plan

If appropriate, create or set up the online course resources you will be using. (Blackboard, OpenLab, Dropbox, Webex, etc).

Update your instructional materials to reflect your plan for teaching remotely, including due dates, methods for collecting assignments, and grading.

Communicate your teaching plan to your students.

Tools & Resources


Blackboard is the CUNY-provided Learning Management System. A Blackboard site is automatically created for every active course each semester. Faculty can upload course content, host group discussions, collect assignments, communicate in real time using BB Collaborate, and add grades to the gradebook.

For more information see Faculty Blackboard on Websupport1.

We have batch enrolled all faculty into our fully online Blackboard Online Workshop for Faculty. Log into this workshop using your CUNYfirst credentials to get into Blackboard. Go to the CUNY website at In the far upper right-hand corner, you will see login. Pull down the menu to select Blackboard. Then use your CUNYfirst credentials to get into Blackboard. Since this online workshop is for training purposes, you are all enrolled as students. So look for courses in which you are participating as a student. You will need to scroll down beneath the courses that you are teaching.


The OpenLab is City Tech’s open digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaboration. It can be used as an alternative or supplement to Blackboard. Students, faculty and staff can sign up using a City Tech email address. Faculty can create courses to share materials, hold discussions, collect assignments, grade coursework, and more.

For more information see, OpenLab Help.

For advice and support, contact the OpenLab team:

City Tech Email

Email can be used for one-on-one or group communication to keep students informed of course changes and campus shutdown information, gather course assignments, and provide feedback. If desired, instructors can ask students to discuss readings or course topics via email as a replacement for face-to-face class discussion.

For support with City Tech email, contact Technology Services during business hours.

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 for Education gives faculty and students a suite of applications for productivity and collaboration.

For more information see, Login to Office 365

For support with Office 365, contact Technology Services during business hours.


Dropbox offers cloud-based file storage for faculty, staff, and students.

Use your CUNYFirst ID to login to the CUNY Dropbox.

For more information see CUNY’s Dropbox Resources.

Google Drive

GoogleDrive is cloud-based file storage and also offers a suite of tools: Docs (word documents) Slides (powerpoint-like presentations), Sheets (excel-like spreadsheets), and more.

For more information see,

*Note: This tool is not supported by CUNY. Grade information should not be distributed on non-CUNY platforms.

Recording Video

There are many tools that you can use to create a presentation using the camera on your phone or computer.

  • Screencast-O-Matic, Jing, Quicktime and others allow you to capture your computer screen and create short videos.
  • Make a video presentation using the college's Media Services.

You can upload the video to YouTube, Office 365, or Dropbox and share the link with your students via Blackboard, OpenLab, or another online resource.

To comply with accessibility best practices, remember to caption your videos.

Accessibility Resources

The Staff of the Center for Student Accessibility wishes you and your loved ones good health and hope you are well in these times of social and physical distancing.

While the office on campus is closed, the staff of the Center for Student Accessibility is here for you: We will be updating our website as new information or resources become available.

Below is a list of our continuing services as well as a series of links prepared by accessibility colleagues throughout the University. Our tutors and lab techs are working remotely with self-identified students registered with the CSA. You can reach out to them with specific questions on student or accessibility needs. I can be reached at

English and composition:

Carrie Baram: google voice 516-362-1026 Tuesday/Wednesday 9:00-3:00 and Thursday: 9:00-2:00.

Gretchen Johnson:


Hugues Michel: 8-11 AM Monday thru Thursday and Friday 9 AM to 4 PM
Email: or


Questions about testing can be sent to and


Our lab staff is working remotely and may have software links and other services students can access. They can be reached at and
They are a resource for both students and faculty.

Resources for Textbooks

You may find some resources for textbooks at VitalSource. See instructions and links below.

CUNY students at participating colleges can now access these materials by creating a VitalSource account at using their email addresses.







Library Resources

The Library’s licensed digital collections offer a wide array of material types that could be incorporated into courses, including e books, image collections, newspapers, historical archives, music, videos, datasets, and journals and magazines.

For help and guidance with using Library resources, contact the Subject Specialist for your department or program.

Our “Ask a Librarian” chat service continues to be available 24/7 via the library website.

For help following Accessibility standards, see Introduction to Accessibility.

For help understanding Fair Use and Copyright, see: CUNY Fair Use & Copyright Guide.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Make use of open educational resources (OER) and other free materials to support instruction.

Find open / free resources, browse CUNY and City Tech OER.

For more information see, contact Prof. Cailean Cooney.

Please note: students may have limited connectivity when off campus and may not be able to join synchronous class meetings.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

This web conferencing tool, integrated with Blackboard courses, allows faculty to lecture, share applications, share student work for student presentations, invite guest lecturers, and chat with your students. It is also useful for office hours.

For more information see Faculty Blackboard on Websupport1.


CUNY has implemented the Webex Education Connector that allows:

  • Faculty to launch Webex Meetings as part of scheduled classes or on demand
  • Faculty to use Webex Meetings to provide virtual office hours
  • Students to participate in Webex Meetings through Blackboard

ConnectCUNY Webex Accounts Quick Start Guide

Accessing Your ConnectCUNY Webex Account

For any questions concerning Webex, contact Technology Services

Microsoft Teams

Offered as part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of tools, Microsoft Teams allows instructors to video conference with one or multiple students. This platform can be used to meet with students for virtual office hours or to host small group discussions as needed.

For more information see, Login to Office 365

For support with Office 365, contact Technology Services during business hours.


Zoom is modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems.

Sign In

Video Tutorials

CUNY: Zoom Security Protocol

We also have the following short videos to help you get up and running with Zoom:

Getting Help

The following types of support are planned to help ensure that faculty are able to use College resources, circumstances permitting.

Faculty & Staff Helpdesk

Phone: 718-260-5626
Room: Namm 901

(For general technology support and assistance with access to CUNYfirst, E-mail, Office 365, etc.)

Instructional Technology (iTec)

Phone: 718-254-8565

Room: General 600/Voorhees 217

(For support and training for Blackboard and all Blackboard Tools such as Collaborate and Learn.)


Ask Us:
Phone: 718-260-5485
Room: Library Building (L-441)

(For assistance with Library resources.)



(For assistance with the OpenLab platform.)

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to our colleagues at other CUNY schools who have generously shared resources that we used to compile this site (in particular, the Centers for Teaching and Learning at The Graduate Center, Baruch, and John Jay).