The following list of reminders and links can help answer frequently asked questions new faculty, teaching staff, and TAs may have, as they request course space and get ready to develop their courses in Blackboard:
Your courses are not automatically listed in Blackboard; you must request your courses to be able to build them.
After logging into webcourses.niu.edu, click the Tools tab at the left of the page, followed by Blackboard Faculty Tools. Click My Courses and then follow the prompts to request your upcoming courses. (Instructions and step-by-step tutorials for requesting your course are also available.) In order to request a Blackboard course, you must be the "instructor of record" for the course in the MyNIU system.
Those teaching dual-level courses (e.g. 400 and 500 or cross-listed courses) or multiple sections may want to combine their sections into one master course. You must be instructor of record for both sections to be able to request a master course. The resulting “Master Course” will include all of the students from both sections.
Course requests are processed immediately. It takes an additional day for someone newly assigned as instructor of record in MyNIU to have permission to request the course in Blackboard. Learn more about requesting Blackboard courses.
You can access all of your courses from the current and previous semesters by clicking Courses at the left of the page. Use the Current Courses drop down menu to select the appropriate term. Fall courses will be listed under Upcoming Courses until the start date. For quick and convenient access, you can use the search tool to find a specific course and you can favorite the courses you use most frequently by clicking the star icon. Learn more about the Courses page.
For the Fall 2022 semester, faculty may choose whether to teach in the Ultra Course View or the Original Course View. NIU is planning for a full migration to the Ultra Course View by December 31, 2023; we recommend that faculty plan to teach their Fall 2023 courses in the Ultra Course View.
At this time, all courses start in the default Original Course View, but you can choose to switch to the newer Ultra Course View. The Ultra Course View is cleaner and more modern than the Original Course View. You are able to preview and convert your course to the Ultra Course View if you are interested in using it.
Many new features have been added to Ultra Course View this summer (like inline previews of files, point-based and custom overall grade calculations, one-question-at-a-time view on tests, and the ability to create and edit question banks). There are still some features of the Original Course View that are not yet available or that work differently in the Ultra Course View, so we recommend that faculty explore the Ultra Course View before converting their course. We have a list of new features, a feature comparison guide and a decision guide to help faculty determine whether the Ultra Course View would be a good fit for them at this time.
In addition, faculty can attend an upcoming workshop, complete the self-paced Transitioning to Blackboard Ultra Course View workshop, watch tutorials on Ultra Course View, or schedule an individual consultation to discuss their course.
We recommend making your course available to students a few days early with a welcome message, to help them anticipate the structure and expectations of the course. Your course may open automatically at the date you specified when you requested your course in Blackboard, or you can open it manually if you did not set a date. This has led to some confusion in the past about whether a course is really "open" or not, but the Course Availability Settings tool, custom-built by the Division of IT, will tell you definitively whether your course is open and let you modify any of the availability settings, including the start date of the course.
Did you know you can customize your profile in Blackboard to include a profile image and your name pronunciation (introduced in June 2022)? It's an easy step that can help students to feel more connected to you. In the Ultra Course View, your profile image appears on the Course Content page and in Messages; both your image and name pronunciation appear on the Roster and in Discussions. In the Original Course View, your profile appears in Discussions. Your students can also customize their profile with an image and name pronunciation, which are visible to their classmates.
The most important information from across your courses, like new materials, discussion posts or replies, assignment and test submissions, or grades will be automatically emailed to you daily as a digest each night. You will only receive the daily digest email if there was activity in at least one of your courses. You can modify your notification settings to determine what you see in the daily digest emails from your profile or by clicking the gear icon in the upper right of the Activity Stream. Uncheck any notification you do not wish to receive; uncheck all of the items on the email tab to stop receiving the Daily Digest emails. Learn more about the Activity Stream and Notifications.
The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning regularly schedules workshops on using Blackboard for teaching purposes. Faculty, Instructors, and Teaching Assistants receive the program schedule via email each month, or you can view the list of upcoming programs on our website.
For those who cannot attend any of the scheduled sessions, CITL has created self-paced workshops on Transitioning to the Ultra Course View and an Introduction to Blackboard Original Course View.
The Teaching and Learning with Blackboard site contains instructions, tutorials, and other helpful information related to using Blackboard for your courses, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
For login and password-related questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 815-753-8100 or ServiceDesk@niu.edu, or use the Division of IT Self-Service system to submit a ticket. For other teaching-related Blackboard questions, faculty can submit questions at niu.edu/blackboard/ask.