Requesting Courses

Once faculty have access to the Blackboard system, they can request a Blackboard course for those sections where they are listed as the Instructor of Record in MyNIU, anytime within 100 days from the start of the course. Requests are made through the Blackboard Faculty Tools (BFT). Instructions for using the BFT are listed below. 

  • Timing: Requests can be made within 100 days of the start of the course. Course requests are processed immediately. You will receive an email notification to confirm that it has completed. 
  • Accessing a New Course: Courses that are requested for an upcoming semester (e.g., requested in July for the Fall semester) will initially appear on the Upcoming Courses tab. On the Courses page, click the Upcoming Courses link in the upper right corner to find your course, or click the Current Courses drop down menu to switch to the specific semester.
  • Auto-Availability: When requesting a course, you may specify an "Auto-Availability" date. This would be when the course will automatically become available to your students. The default date specified is the official start date of the course, but you can enter any date you prefer, or you can opt-out of auto-availability entirely. If you opt-out, you will need to make the course available manually when you are ready for students to see the course.
  • Student Enrollments: Any student who is enrolled in the course in MyNIU will automatically be added to your Blackboard course, and enrollments will be updated twice a day as students add or drop your course. You may add other users, such as students or faculty, to your course, either to assist you with teaching the course or for them to view the material. 
  • Shells: You may request a shell for development purposes, if you want. Shells do not have students enrolled in them, and should not be used for instruction. If you make a shell available, it will become unavailable again within 24 hours. Shell names always begin with the word "Shell".

If you are teaching multiple sections of the same course in a given semester, you may want to consolidate the course sections into one master course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to request courses every semester?Updated

Each semester, you need to perform the course request process in the Blackboard Faculty Tools to match your course to the appropriate student roster. The result will be a course that contains enrollment but no materials. Course materials can be copied from another course using Course Copy.

While some institutions automatically create all courses for their faculty, NIU uses this request process for 2 reasons:

  • You are able to choose which courses you want to use in Blackboard. For some courses, such as thesis/dissertation sections, you may not want to use Blackboard. This keeps your Courses page less cluttered.
  • You are able to choose to combine some of your courses. If you are teaching two sections together, such as a course offered at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, you can combine those into a single Blackboard course. This simplifies your course management (e.g., you only post announcements, files, etc. once for both sections) and allows your students to interact with one another (e.g., shared discussion boards). 
When I attempt to request courses in Blackboard, a message appears stating that I have to be the instructor of record in order to request the courses. What must I do to request the Blackboard courses for the course sections I'm teaching?

Your department office has to enter you in MyNIU as the instructor of record for the courses you are assigned to teach. Please contact your department office to make this assignment in MyNIU. After the assignment is processed in MyNIU, you will be able to request the courses using the Blackboard Faculty Tools (BFT). Note: It may take up to one business day for the course to be listed in the Blackboard Faculty Tools.

It also has to be within 100 days from the start date for you to be able to request a course. This is to ensure that the schedule is finalized and minimize the risk of one faculty member from starting to build a course that is then assigned to someone else.

How do I request a Blackboard course for my thesis, graduate project, dissertation, or independent study students?

If you have students under your supervision who are working on a thesis, graduate project, dissertation, or an independent study and you’d like to use Blackboard Learn to facilitate the work, the best method is to ask your department to set up a section of the associated course in MyNIU with you as the instructor of record. Often, these courses are scheduled with a single section under the department chair, but that limits your ability to use university resources, like Blackboard, to work with your students.

If your department creates a section for you, then students can register directly to your section of the thesis, project, dissertation, or independent study course. You will also be able to request a course in Blackboard, like you would for a more traditional course.

It is recommended that the department create course sections for each faculty member in the department for each of these types of courses, every semester. This will automatically allow any faculty member to request the Blackboard course for those purposes. 

I am listed as the instructor of record in MyNIU and I can see my course section(s) for the upcoming semester, but I don't see that semester as an option for requesting the Blackboard sections using the Blackboard Faculty Tools.Updated

Courses are available to request in Blackboard anytime within 100 days from the start of the semester, but not prior.

Also, it takes 12-24 hours for Blackboard to synchronize with MyNIU. If you were recently assigned to the course in MyNIU, wait 12-24 hours for the Blackboard Faculty Tools to update with that assignment. 

I requested my course, but I cannot see it on the Courses page in Blackboard.Updated

If you requested a course prior to its start date (e.g., requested a course in July that starts in August), then the course will initially appear on the Upcoming Courses tab of the Courses page. The default view is Current Courses. You can navigate to the upcoming semester using the arrows at the top of the Courses page or by using the Current Courses drop down menu.

If you requested a course after its start date, you may need to refresh the Courses page a few times to clear your browser's cache.

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