Blackboard Organizations

Blackboard Organizations are online environments for formal and informal organizations and clubs at the university. Communities have the same features for presenting information and communicating with other users that are found in courses, and are also managed in a similar way.

Requesting a Blackboard Organizations

Complete details regarding requesting a Blackboard organization are available at For additional information, call 815.753.8100 or email

Accessing Organizations

To access your organizations, log into Blackboard by going to, using your NIU AccountID as the username, and the corresponding password as the Blackboard password. Students use their Z-ID and password to log into Blackboard.

  1. Click the Organization tab located near the top of the page.  The organizations you are enrolled in appear under My Organizations
  2. To enter a organization, click the name of the organization in the list.

Image of Community tab

Enrolling Users

Note:  If you know the Z- or A-ID of the person to be enrolled, Steps 5 and 6 can be omitted.

To enroll users manually:

  1. After accessing your Community, from the Control Panel, click Users and Groups
  2. Select Users
  3. On the adjacent page, click the Find Users to Enroll button 
    Enrolling Users Steps 1 - 3
  4. On the following page, if the Username of the user is known, enter it in the textbox and proceed to Step 7; otherwise, click Browse
    Enrolling Users Step 4
  5. If you clicked Browse, search for users by Username, First Name, Last Name, or NIU Email and click Go
  6. Click Submit after user is located
    Enroll User Steps - 5 and 6
  7. On the Add Enrollments page, select the appropriate Role
  8. Click the Submit button when finished
    Enrolling a user, steps 7 and 8

Modifying Status of Participants to be Leaders

  1. After accessing your Community, from the Control Panel, click Users and Groups
  2. Select Users

Modify user role, Steps 1 and 2

  1. Click the action link next to the user's name whose Role will be modified
  2. Select Change User's Role in Organization

Modify a user, Steps 3 and 4


  1. On the Change User's Role page, select the radio button for Leader
  2. Click Submit

Modify a user, Steps 5 and 6

Adding Folders or Documents

Folders and documents can be created and added to a Community through any Content Area within Blackboard.  For instructions on how to create a folder or upload a file, please click here.  

Collaboration Tools Available to Community Members

There are several collaborative tools available for use within a Community that can be created and deployed by Community Leaders:

  • The Discussion Board is a tool for that can be used for sharing thoughts and ideas within a Community asynchronously (not at the same time). The Discussion Board is administered by the Community's Leader(s) and is made up of forums that may appear anywhere within the Community but is also centrally located in the Course Menu under the designation of Discussions.

    Discussions in Blackboard resemble an electronic bulletin board, where users post their messages when they have time.  In the Discussion Board, a forum is a general topic for discussion. A thread is a subordinate discussion within the forum.

    See here for more information on Discussion Boards.

  • A Blog is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. In Blackboard, only enrolled users of a Community can view and author Blogs. Blogs encourage participants to clearly express their ideas, and addresses the need to expand various aspects of social learning. Blogs are an effective way to gain insight into participants' activities and provide a way to share the knowledge and materials collected.

    See here for more information on Blogs

  • Wikis are used to create a collaborative space within a Community where all participants can view, contribute, and edit content.  In Blackboard, the Wiki tool allows participants to contribute and modify one or more pages of Community-related materials, providing a means of sharing and collaboration. Pages can be created and edited quickly, while tracking changes and additions, allowing for effective collaboration between multiple contributors. The Community Leader can create one or more Wikis for all participants to contribute to and Wikis for specific groups to use to collaborate. Wikis can also be used to record information and serve as a repository for Community information and knowledge.

    See here for more information on Wikis

Changing Availability Settings

Communities, by default, are not available to participants until the community Leader decides to make it available. This is indicated in the My Organizations module where you will see (Unavailable) displayed next to the Community's name.

See here for instructions on how to make a Community available.

Community Groups

The Groups tool allows Community Leaders to organize participants into groups of any size. Community Leaders can provide communication and collaboration tools that only Group members can access. Groups can be created one at a time or in sets. Groups can be designated as Self-Enroll, allowing participants to add themselves to a Group, or Manual Enroll, having the Community Leader assign students to a Group.

Once created, each Group has its own space in the Community to work together. The Community Leader can allow individual Group members to personalize their Group space with personal modules, such as My Calendar and What's New. Also, the Community Leader can enable an assortment of tools to help participants collaborate.

See here for instructions on how to create and manage groups within a Community.

Community Roles

  • Organization Builder— Has access to most areas within a Community, including the Control Panel, however no access to participant grades or the Grade Center.
  • Grader— Has limited access to the Control Panel, but can assist with the creation, management, delivery, and grading of assessments and surveys within a Community.
  • Leader— Has access to all areas within the Community. This role is generally given to those developing, teaching, or facilitating the Community and is comparable to the role of Instructor.
  • Participant— Has no access to the Control Panel, and is the default role within a Community. This role can be compared to the role of Student in a Blackboard Course.
  • Assistant— Has full access to the Control Panel, but is not listed in the Community Catalog as a Leader. Can also manage (add, change, delete) membership of the organization.
  • Guest— Has no access to the Control Panel. Areas within the Organization can be made available to Guests by a Leader. Visitors, such as prospective students, alumni or parents, may be given the role of Guest.

Last Updated: 6/1/2017