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

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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.

Your faculty may also choose to use Microsoft Teams for web conferencing, and 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.

LinkedIn Learning is an online educational platform that is available to all NIU students. Your faculty may use some of these video courses as learning materials for your courses. With over 5,000 courses available, you may also find courses that help you explore outside interests or help you better utilize software like Office 365.

As a result of campus closure, student access to Adobe Creative Cloud in labs and classrooms is not available. Adobe has provided temporary at-home access for impacted students and faculty, so you can continue your work remotely. Please follow the instructions below to enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on your personal device. These free licenses are only available until May 31, 2020.

Note: An account has already been created for you using the format below. Login using that format and follow the instructions provided, do not create a new account or opt-out of any existing account, this will cause delays in access.

Please do not use Edge browser for this process.

  1. Visit https://creativecloud.adobe.com and use your school credentials to sign in.
    1. Note: If you do not have an account with your school credentials, you will need to Create an Account with those credentials in order to access your free license for the duration of the period.

      1. Student E-mail Format: ZID@students.niu.edu

      2. Faculty/Staff E-mail Format: AID@mail.niu.edu

    2. When creating an account, Adobe may require additional account details. Follow the instructions in your e-mail to finish up and log into your account.
    3. When prompted, accept Adobe’s Terms of Use to continue

  2. If prompted, select Company or School Account and then enter your password. Or, provide your credentials in your school’s login screen.

  3. From the Creative Cloud website select the Waffle menu in the top right-hand corner of your browser screen.

  4. From the Waffle menu, click on “Creative Cloud

  5. Click “Get Desktop App.” Download and run the file to install.

  6. A box may pop up that says “Permission may be required;” please just click OK to continue.

  7. Creative Cloud will then begin to install. Please allow this process to finish. You may be required to log in again after the installation process finishes.

  8. Once the Creative Cloud Desktop App has been installed, you can then install ANY of the applications listed and use during the COVID closure.

To help higher education students continue developing their skills, Adobe offers free “Daily Creative Challenges.” These are guided projects where participants receive creative prompts and connect with pros, mentors and other students for feedback and support. Learn more about Photoshop, XD and Illustrator. Also, for inspiration and over-the-shoulder learning, watch pros share their creative process on Adobe Live daily.

For faculty seeking to engage students during campus closures, Adobe has curated distance learning resources to help you discover inspiring projects, best practices and new ideas so you can continue to drive valuable learning in virtual environments.

If you have any problems accessing your licenses, please submit a ticket via our web portal, it.niu.edu.

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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