SharePoint Online at NIU

SharePoint Online is a free service in Office 365 for Education available to all students, faculty and staff. It is an online content and document management tool for creating authenticated intranets, managing file libraries, collaboration on team projects, and more. 

  • A SharePoint "site collection" is a top-level website that can contain multiple subsites.
  • A subsite is ideal when a unique set of permissions or functionality is required within a site collection.
  • Site collections can have up to 2,000 subsites. For example, “Accounting” might be a subsite within a “College of Business” site collection.

SharePoint is not always the best collaboration option. Choose the right tool for the job.

Request a Site

Local IT staff must submit a site request at All requests must include certificates of completion for the two courses in the new SharePoint Online playlist at that includes two courses: SharePoint Online and SharePoint Online 2017: Beyond the Basics. These IT staff will become the site owner who designs and manages the site to serve local needs.

Because subsites are contained within site collections, requests for subsites should be made directly to the site collection owner with the following information: 

  • Subsite Name - The name that appears in the URL, so keep it as short as possible and without special characters or spaces (e.g. ACCY). 
  • Title The friendly name that appears at the top of the site (e.g. Accounting Department). 
  • Groups
  • Owners – The owner can add administrators and visitors or rely on local technology support to manage subsite permissions.


Use your NIU email alias or Account ID to access SharePoint, just like other Office 365 applications. If a user logs in but does not have access to a site, a form to request access will display and be sent to the site owner.

Site owners can grant access using dynamic Human Resources groups that mirror HR department membership. To add an HR department group, add the group "Global-Department-Group-AA00000" to your site group, where AA00000 is an NIU HR department code.

SharePoint access is distributed and managed by the site owner. Access to new site collections is initially limited to the predetermined site owner, who then designates user permissions. Access is given by the site owner and can be for entire site collections, individual subsites, libraries and/or lists, and individual documents or other items. Five user roles can be granted by site owners.

   Visitors   Members   Approvers   Designers   Owners 
 Read and download site content * * * * *
 Browse site content * * * * *
 Search site content * * * * *
 Request higher access level * * * * *
 Create and edit site content   * * * *
 Approve site content additions and changes      * * *
 Create/edit lists and libraries       * *
 Change page structure and visual design       * *
 Add/edit web parts       * *
 Administer permissions         *

Learn to Use SharePoint

Site Users

Lynda courses are free to students, faculty and staff:

Free Microsoft courses

Site Collection Owners

Because SharePoint is a complex application with many potential uses, completing the entire SharePoint Online Essential Training course is required for all new site owners.  Additional site owner content is at > search for "SharePoint Admin."  Keep in mind we're using SharePoint Online, which is closer to SharePoint 2016 and doesn't require any infrastructure setup. 

See the NIU SharePoint Roles and Responsibilities Guide for guidelines on who does what and best practices for rolling out a department SharePoint site collection.

Data Recovery (Recycle Bins)

Items are deleted approximately 90 days after they are put in the recycle bin. All items are automatically deleted when the total storage in the Second-Stage Recycle Bin exceeds 200% of the site collection quota.

  • Document restore for users
  • Document version rollback for users (Site owners configure the number of versions. A site collection's number of versions is 500 major versions by default.)
  • Site Recycle Bin (for site owners)
  • Second-stage Site Recycle Bin (for site owners)
    • Site collections can be deleted only by the site owner. They can be restored by Microsoft within 14 days of being deleted.


  • Access database hosting
  • Customizable web forms
  • Discussion forums
  • Document versioning
  • HIPAA-compliant document storage
  • Picture and slide libraries with thumbnails
  • Subsites for teams and projects
  • Team calendars via Exchange Online
  • Wikis


  • 1TB site collection limit
  • 2,000 subsites per site collection
  • 10 GB file upload limit

Roles and responsibilities