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Trends in Blackboard Tool Usage at NIU

Blackboard Learn, the course management system utiilized by Northern Illinois University faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students, continues to be an important platform for facilitating teaching at learning at NIU, with over 96% of students and 92% of teaching faculty using the system during Fall 2014.  To gain even more insight into how NIU faculty and students are using Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology has implemented new custom reporting capabilities within Blackboard that extends the built-in statistics tracking features for tracking individual tool usage by course. As a result, we have an even better understanding of overall Blackboard adoption and tool use at NIU and will be able to track usage trends over time.

Reviewing this additional usage data, the following infographic, available for download here, was developed to highlight notable trends in Blackboard tool usage.

NIU Blackboard Tool Use 2014

A few noteworthy usage trends as of Fall 2014 include:

  • Overall Blackboard tool use by course instructors has continued to increase over the years – particularly tools relating to grading, testing and assignments, and online collaboration. Interestingly, the percent usage of these tools increases considerably over the summer semester.
  • Student use of the Blackboard system has remained high for the past several years (~96%).
  • Recently, Blackboard adoption by teaching faculty has made a significant jump from 82% (2013) to 92% (2014).
  • Most course instructors make use of Blackboard for posting announcement and content items (e.g., PowerPoint Slides, PDFs, Images, etc.), as well as for posting grades.
  • Use of Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing has risen significantly over the past year, with now 11% of courses using Blackboard Collaborate

Thank you to the Division of Information Technology for providing these usage statistics, as they have been useful in identifying what tools are being used most in Blackboard as well as recognizing trends usage over time.

For more information about Teaching with Blackboard at Northern Illinois University, visit

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