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Basic Computer Skills

Suggestions and Strategies:

Computer Checklist - Go to the NIU computer checklist to find the basic requirements for most online courses. If you are not sure how to check your computer you can take your computer to a local computer store like Best Buy and ask them to help you compare your computer to the NIU computer checklist.


Suggestions and Strategies:

If you have ever used your mobile phone, iPad, or computer to access social media or information on the internet, then you probably have enough technical skills to be a successful online student. The first thing you need to know is where to find your online courses at NIU. Put the following location into the adress bar of your browser and it will get you to the front door of NIU's Online Learning Management System, which is called Blackboard.

Second, you will need to make sure you have a login ID to get into your courses. This should have been part of your registration materials but in case you have forgotten you can contact the DoIT Service Desk for help. There are a lot of friendly people in DoIT who can help you with all your technical questions. 

Most importanly you need to check your NIU Student Email regularly. 


Suggestions and Strategies:

NIU provides the Microsoft Office suite free to all NIU students. Just login to Office 365 and download it to your computer. 

Lynda logo

To learn how to use Microsoft Word and many more applications NIU offers free access to The NIU site license for provides hundreds of topics like business skills, photography, graphic design, web and interactive design, programming, technical certifications and much more.

Staff in the Division of Information Technology have also curated several customized playlists for NIU faculty, staff and students.

All these resources and more can be found here.


Suggestions and Strategies:

Internet searching has gotten much easier in recent years thanks to Google and Google Scholar. If you are doing research for a course I recommend you start with Google Scholar. Of course you might have also heard about Wikipedia, and while that is a great resource (shh don't tell anyone I said that!) don't use it in your college courses because most faculty feel Wikipedia content is not very accurate. However, you can use it as part of your strategy to get further in your research or even come up with better search terms. 

Tip - When looking for the most recent information online, type your search terms into the Google search bar, then after your initial search results come up, look for the word Tools at the top of the screen, click on that link and then change "Any Time" to something more recent. 


Basic Study Skills

Suggestions and Strategies:

Online courses have different challenges from face-to-face courses but you have friends here at NIU to help. Take a look at our Online Success Tip Sheets for lots of valuable information from our faculty, staff, and online student alumni, and ways to contact NIU staff for help with any of your questions or concerns.


Suggestions and Strategies:

Procrastinating - This problem is magnified ten-fold when students have the leisure of completing classes at their own pace. Many students never finish their degree because they lack the self-discipline and motivation to sit down and get their work done on a daily basis.

 If you’re prone to putting off work, set some definite goals for yourself and stick to them. Many students have found it beneficial to create a deadline for receiving their degree and set smaller monthly, weekly, and daily goals that will allow them to reach that deadline (From Thought Company).


Suggestions and Strategies: 

The most important strategies are:

  1. Set a study schedule for yourself, just as if you were going to class once a week. 
  2. Create a study space for yourself that won't get disturbed by others.
  3. Let friends and family know you are a college student and to help you succeed please try not to disturb you when studying. 
  4. Stay organized, both with your paperwork and your computer files.
  5. Back up your course files to a second location. Do this often in case your computer crashes. A Flash drive is helpful, just keep it in a safe place.
  6. Check your student email regularly for updates from your faculty and from NIU.