Students' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Blackboard

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

What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is a learning management system that provides a platform for 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

You can also access Blackboard from a mobile device using the free Bb Student app.

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 the IT Service Desk at (815) 753-8100.

What operating systems do I need to use Blackboard?
  • Windows users:  Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 10
  • Mac users:  Macintosh OS 10.8 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 56K 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?
  • Windows users: Firefox 31 or higher, Chrome 36 or higher, and Internet Explorer 9 or higher
  • Mac Users: Firefox 31 or higher, Chrome 36 or higher, and Safari 6 or higher

Note: If you use a browser that is not listed above, you can still access and use most features of Blackboard; however, if you are taking online quizzes or tests via Blackboard, you might experience technical problems.

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

While you can access Blackboard from the browser on your mobile device (phone or tablet), we do not recommend it. Some features of Blackboard will not work on a mobile device due to the device's limitations. Instead, you should use the free Bb Student app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

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 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 module on the left 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.

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 courses 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.