Students Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page will be frequently updated as we add more questions, so please check back often.

What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is course management system that provides a web-based platform that allows faculty to add and organize course resources for students to access online.  NIU is currently running Release 9.1.

How do I access Blackboard?

The NIU Blackboard course Web site can be accessed at the following:

As an NIU student, you will have a Blackboard account ready for you.

How do I log in to Blackboard?

Once you arrive at the Blackboard home page, type in your Z -ID in the “username” box and your password (the one that corresponds with your Z-ID account) in the “password” box. Then click on the Login button.

How do I find out what my Z-ID is or how do I change my password?

As indicated above, you will need your Z-ID and a proper password to access Blackboard.

If you are a new student at NIU, you can get general information about your Z-ID by going to the following page:

To find out what your Z-ID is or to change your password, please go to the following page:

I am a current student at NIU, but I cannot log in to Blackboard?

If you are unable to log in to the Blackboard system, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • You have entered an incorrect Z-ID
  • Your password has expired and/or needs to be reset

Please refer to the questions above to resolve either of these issues.

If you are using the correct Z-ID and a currently active password and are still unable to log in to Blackboard, please contact DoIT at (815) 753-8100.

What operating systems do I need to use Blackboard?

  • Windows users:  XP, Vista, or Windows 7  
  • Mac users:  Macintosh OS 10.2 or higher

What type of Internet connection do I need to access Blackboard?

Blackboard can be accessed from any computer that is connected to the Internet with access speeds of 56 K or faster. Please bear in mind that slower Internet access speeds might hamper the downloading or uploading of files, especially during peak usage hours (this might become a major problem when taking timed online quizzes or tests via Blackboard). Slower speeds will also interfere with the smooth playing of audio and video files. 

What browsers can I use to access Blackboard?

Blackboard supports four primary browsers for Learn releases. 

Run the browser checker to see whether Blackboard Learn supports your browser and operating system.

Traditionally Released Browsers:

Internet Explorer - Internet Explorer 9 and higher. NOTE - Some configurations of Internet Explorer might make some features of Blackboard Learn difficult to use.

Safari - Safari 6 and higher. NOTE - Safari for Windows is unsupported. Apple's continued support for this browser is unclear, and Blackboard does not test it.

Automatically updated Channel-based browsers:

Firefox from Mozilla - Both Stable (Since version 28) and ESR (Since version 24) release are supported. 

Chrome from Google (Since version 34)


Both newer and older browsers from these vendors may be supported. To learn more please visit -

Also, your browser settings should be set at the following:

  • Accept all cookies
  • Security Level set at Medium
  • Enable Java and JavaScript
  • Disable pop-up blockers

What software do I need on my computer to run Blackboard?

You will need the following software installed on your computer to access course-related content:

  • MS Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

For certain courses that use graphics and video content, you might need Windows Media Player, Real Player, Quick Time, or Flash installed on your computer.

Can I access Blackboard from any off-campus location (home or work)?

You need not be on campus or use an on-campus computer to access Blackboard. You can use Blackboard anywhere you have a computer with Internet access.

Will virus protection software or firewalls interfere with Blackboard?

Commonly used virus protection software products, like McAfee or Norton, should not interfere with accessing Blackboard.

If you access Blackboard at home and you use firewall protection, you might encounter occasional problems while using Blackboard. To resolve such problems, you will need to make changes to your firewall settings. If you experience similar problems at work, contact the technical help desk for assistance.

How do I access the courses that I am registered for?

Once you log into Blackboard, you will see your courses listed under the My Courses tab on the right hand side of the page. You can also click on the Courses tab at the upper left hand corner of the page to get a listing of the courses that you have registered for and which have a Blackboard course Web site.

Why can’t I see all my courses that I am registered for?

While Blackboard has become increasingly popular with NIU faculty in recent years, there are some faculty members who choose not to use Blackboard for the courses that they teach. Also, please note that some Blackboard course Web sites are not available until after the first few days of the semester have passed.

Can I use non-NIU e-mail addresses to communicate via Blackboard?

No. In order to receive or send e-mail messages via Blackboard, you will need to use your NIU-provided e-mail account.

Last updated: 09/04/2015