Learning Tools

Learn more about the tech and tools you need to learn online.

Top Tools

Blackboard Learn, Collaborate, and Microsoft Office 365 will help you access your course materials, stay connected with your faculty and classmates and set you up for success while learning remotely.

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Use Blackboard to access and manage course content as well as interact with instructors and classmates online. 

Blackboard login


 Blackboard Collaborate

Work virtually on class projects and video chat with your classmates and faculty using the web conferencing tool in Blackboard.

Web conferencing info

cloud file

Microsoft O365

Collaborate with faculty and classmates in the cloud using your free O365 account to share files with unlimited storage.

O365 login

Basic Tech Requirements

You will need:

  • Device (computer, laptop, tablet) which meets NIU's minimum requirements
  • Stable high-speed internet access (DSL, cable, home or public Wi-Fi, eduroam)
  • Current versions of a web browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome
  • Up-to-date Java and Flash plugins

Online Learning Toolset

Blackboard Learn is NIU’s learning management system. To access your online classes in Blackboard use the same login that you use for other NIU systems

Blackboard Collaborate is a video, audio and chat collaboration tool used in many online courses. You can access the link to Blackboard Collaborate within your courses in Blackboard.

Microsoft Teams is a video, voice and chat-based collaboration platform complete with document sharing, online meetings, and many more extremely useful features for academic communications. Your faculty may also choose to use for web conferencing, but it's also a tool you can use to stay in touch with friends and classmates.

Your NIU email also gives you access to Microsoft Office 365, which NIU students are eligible to use for free. Your Office 365 login is the same that you use to login to your email address. Along with the Teams tool mentioned above, this will give you access to Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneDrive (a document storage and sharing tool).

VoiceThread is an online platform that allows you to put digital media such as images, videos, and documents at the center of an asynchronous conversation. VoiceThread allows people to contribute to discussions using a keyboard, microphone, web cam, telephone, or uploaded audio file.

FlipGrid is a tool that allows for video-based discussion. Faculty may use this as a replacement for or an enhancement to discussion boards to help foster additional interaction and connection.

SPSS Statistics is a software package available to all NIU students for interactive, or batched, statistical analysis. Log-in authentication required for download.

For PC


Effective fall 2020, Zoom is now also available at NIU and all NIU faculty now have access to use Zoom for their teaching. In some classes you might be asked to participate in class sessions via Zoom.

Mobile Learning Apps

You have access to apps designed to support your learning and life at NIU. These apps, including the NIU appBlackboard app and Teams app are available for download on iOS and Android. 

NIU mobile app icon  Blackboard mobile app icon  Teams app icon

Disability Resource Services

If you are in need of accommodations such as adaptive materials or accessible media, the Disability Resource Center works to enable equal access to learning and university life for students registered with the DRC.

DRC is operating remotely and can assist students and faculty with alternate instruction needs by contacting the main office and leaving a message.

If you have concerns with how your disability will intersect with the transition to virtual learning or if you encounter any unanticipated barriers, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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