Academic Administrator's Blackboard Frequently Asked Questions

Access to Courses in Blackboard

What is necessary for a faculty member to have access to Blackboard?New
All faculty (including faculty members and teaching staff) are given access to Blackboard when they are issued their NIU AccountID and password. The hiring department must complete all hiring forms for a new faculty and submit them to Human Resource Services (HRS) as soon as possible to ensure timely creation of an NIU AccountID. After HRS has processed the paperwork, an AccountID will be generated for that faculty and access to Blackboard will be granted on the following business day.
What steps are necessary to make sure that a faculty member in a department is listed as the "instructor of record" for a course that he/she is assigned to teach?Updated

The faculty member’s department scheduler needs to list the faculty member as the instructor of record in MyNIU for each course section he/she is assigned to teach. The association is fed into Blackboard on the next business day, after which the instructor should be able to request creation of the courses(s) in Blackboard.

The faculty member can check the course schedule in MyNIU to be sure he or she is listed as the instructor of record.

What if a faculty member needs access to Blackboard before his/her contract date starts or before necessary hiring paperwork has been fully processed by Human Resource Services and Registration and Records (in the case of a late hire)?

An individual cannot be issued access to university’s computing resources (including Blackboard) until that individual’s hiring paperwork has been received by Human Resource Services and has been entered into the HRS system. Any concerns or questions about when an individual's AccountID will be available should be addressed to HRS at 815-753-6000.

What is the process for a faculty member who wishes to use Blackboard to request course space on Blackboard?

Faculty members who have access to the Blackboard system can request a Blackboard course for those sections for which they are listed as official instructors of record. Requests for Blackboard course space should be made through the Blackboard Faculty Tools (BFT), a web-based request form that can be found under the "Tools" tab in Blackboard at

Requests made through the BFT are processed immediately. After course requests are processed, faculty will see the course title under the Courses tab after logging into Blackboard with their AccountIDs.

How long do courses remain on Blackboard and what precautions should faculty members take to backup their courses?Updated

Courses remain in Blackboard for 5 years before being deleted; Shells remain until faculty delete them. Faculty members should make sure they export any course they wish to retain before the course removal process begins. Faculty members are responsible for exporting their own courses. The export includes all course materials but excludes student activity, submissions, and grades. The Gradebook can be downloaded for offline work to retain a copy of grades, and student submissions (such as tests or assignments) can be downloaded in bulk from the associated item in the Gradebook.

Announcements about course removal are sent to faculty via email as well as posted on the Teaching and Learning with Blackboard Web site prior to the courses being removed.

If a faculty teaching a course using Blackboard has to go on leave during a semester due to medical or other emergencies and another faculty has to take over that course, what do I have to do to get the second faculty access to that Blackboard course?

If the faculty going on leave during the semester is able, then he/she can give access to his/her Blackboard course to the second faculty by enrolling that faculty as an instructor in the course. If the faculty going on leave during the semester is not able to give access to his/her Blackboard course to the second faculty, then the department chair can contact the IT Service Desk at  and request access to the course for the second faculty.

If the change of instructor will remain for the entire semester, the second faculty member should be added as instructor of record in MyNIU so that they are able to submit grades at the end of the semester.

I am a department chair hiring a new instructor who needs access to Blackboard while we finalize the hiring paperwork process. How can I request expedited Blackboard access?

For new hires that may be awaiting the processing of hiring paperwork and activation of their NIU Account ID necessary to access Blackboard, we have a technical solution in place that allows for new hires to receive access to their Blackboard courses for the upcoming semester using a temporary guest Blackboard ID associated with their personal email address. With this temporary Blackboard guest ID, new hires are able to login to access their spring Blackboard course(s) to develop and begin teaching as needed until their employee NIU Account ID is activated and they've been assigned as instructor of record in MyNIU. They then will be able to transition to using their activated employee ID and password to login to their Blackboard course(s) without any need to transfer any course content or settings.

If you have any new hires for spring who are still awaiting their employee Account IDs for Blackboard access, please submit a request using the Blackboard Ask A Question Form  with the following for each new hire who still needs Blackboard access so we can expedite creation of temporary accounts: first name, last name, contact email, course(s) assigned to teach for spring (include course number and section). Upon receipt we will promptly ensure they receive access to their course(s) and follow-up individually with each to provide them their login details.

First Name Last Name Contact Email Course(s) Teaching for Spring (course number and section)

Special Circumstances

Are there implications for Blackboard when an instructor is changed in MyNIU?New

When someone is assigned as instructor in MyNIU (either primary or secondary), that is communicated to Blackboard the next day. If a course has not yet been requested, the newly-assigned instructor will be able to request their course and begin developing it the day after they are assigned in MyNIU. If the course was already requested by the first instructor, the second instructor will be enrolled in the pre-existing course and will automatically be granted access to the first instructor's materials.

When someone is removed as instructor in MyNIU, their access to the associated Blackboard course is disabled the next day. They cannot be manually enrolled by another faculty member because they are technically still enrolled, just disabled. If someone who was instructor in MyNIU needs access to a course after they have been unassigned in MyNIU, you will need to contact the Service Desk at or for assistance.

Whenever instructor assignments are changed in MyNIU, it is worthwhile to let both parties know of the change so that the first instructor can remove any materials they do not wish to share with the newly-assigned instructor.

If a faculty member is assigned to teach multiple sections of the same course, can several sections be combined into a single master course?

Yes. Faculty members who are assigned to teach multiple sections of the same course in a given semester have the option of consolidating these course sections in Blackboard into one master course so that the same course materials need not be manually uploaded to each of the course sections. To learn more about this process, please review the information provided at Multiple Course Sections and contact the IT Service Desk at 815-753-8100 or email with any further questions.

Please note that faculty members can use the Blackboard Content Collection to post content used in multiple course sections in one folder in the Content Collection and link to it from different sections of the same course on Blackboard.

If a faculty member is assigned to teach a course that is cross-listed across several departments, can the enrollments in the cross-listed courses be combined into a single course section in Blackboard?Updated

As long as the faculty member is listed as instructor of record for all cross-listed sections of the course in MyNIU, they will be able to request the sections be combined as a master course in the Blackboard Faculty Tools. If the faculty member is not listed as instructor of record for all cross-listed sections of the course, they can still be combined by reaching out to the Service Desk at 815-753-8100,, or The department chair may need to provide permission in writing for the courses to be combined by affirming that the faculty member is indeed teaching all of the sections.

The master course will be listed in Blackboard with only one of the department designators, so the faculty member should clearly communicate to students they at they will be using a course in Blackboard that differs from the one they are enrolled in.

Is it possible for several faculty members to share course materials in Blackboard?

Yes. There are several options available for faculty who wish to share course materials in Blackboard. These include either sharing access to a common Blackboard development shell, sharing access to a scheduled course section in Blackboard, exporting and importing materials from one course to another, or using the Blackboard Content Collection to store and share content within the Blackboard learning environment. 

What special considerations are necessary if a course is offered in Blackboard for both credit and non-credit students?Updated

This is a complex situation, and one you may want to discuss with a member of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. The appropriate approach will depend on multiple factors.

If the course is a regular academic offering, and you want to allow non-credit students to participate along with credit students, the non-credit students must be manually enrolled in the Blackboard course. If the non-credit students do not have NIU Account IDs, you can request sponsored accounts from the Division of IT using the form available at

If the course is not offered for credit, the course and registration can be managed in Blackboard's Training and Development Manager. In this case, both NIU students and external participants can register for the course using a special store front. NIU students sign in and enroll using their Z-ID, and external participants can create their own accounts. Anyone who registers through the Training and Development Manager is automatically enrolled in the Blackboard course.

Please contact us at or use the Ask a Question form if you are working on a course that includes non-credit students.


Can I use Blackboard for non-course related purposes such as distributing information to all students in my department or student organizations/groups?

Faculty members can request a Blackboard Organization for purposes which are not directly related to instruction and fall outside of the definition of Blackboard Courses. There is no fee for use of Blackboard Organizations. To do so:

  1. Log in at with your NIU Account ID and password
  2. Click the Get Help button
  3. Click the Submit a Form button
  4. Click the Add/Remove Blackboard Org link
  5. Select Add a New Blackboard Organization
  6. Select Standard Organization 
  7. Complete the form and click the Submit button at the top of the page

Generally, the requestor is responsible for enrolling individuals in the Organization. However, for large groups of participants, the Division of IT can enroll members in bulk if you can provide them with a list of Account IDs (A- or Z-IDs). DOIT can also set up automatic enrollments based on students' declared major, for program or department communication. 

Can I use Blackboard Collaborate for non-course related purposes?New

Yes, you can request a Blackboard Organization for the purposes of having access to Blackboard Collaborate for non-course related purposes. There is no fee for using Blackboard Collaborate for non-course purposes.

  1. Log in at with your NIU Account ID and password
  2. Click the Get Help button
  3. Click the Submit a Form button
  4. Click the Add/Remove Blackboard Org link
  5. Select Add a New Blackboard Organization
  6. Select Collaborate Organization 
  7. Complete the form and click the Submit button at the top of the page

Every department can request one Collaborate Organization and enroll multiple people as Leaders, so that they have access to the Collaborate scheduler.

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