2015-2016 Annual Report Now Available

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The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is pleased to announce the completion of our annual report for the 2015-16 academic year. This latest report is available at go.niu.edu/facdevreport15-16. Below are a few highlights.

During 2015-2016, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center contributed to the university’s mission …to promote excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service by collaborating with various academic and support units to meet the ongoing and emerging needs of NIU faculty, staff, administrators, and graduate teaching assistants in their teaching, technology integration, professional development, and related needs. This was the seventeenth full academic year of operation for the center since we were reorganized in August 1998. Some of our significant accomplishments this year include:

  • Offering 164 programs for 1,945 participants, which totaled 6,052 hours of professional development
  • Conducting 1,310 consultations with 468 unique faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate teaching assistants from 92 academic and support units
  • Serving on 17 committees, councils, and organizations within NIU and the broader Faculty Development community
  • Recognized 4 recipients of Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, issued 10 Graduate Teaching Certificates, and was honored with 4 individual and department recognitions

Activities Quick Glance

Feel free to explore and learn more about our activities and accomplishments from the past year.


Jason Rhode, Ph.D.

Fall 2015 Blackboard Reminders for the Beginning of the Semester

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BlackboardAs many new faculty, teaching staff, and TAs may request course space on Blackboard this week and get ready to develop their courses on Blackboard, the following useful links and reminders are provided for some of the “beginning of the semester” frequently asked questions:

  1. Requesting a new course on Blackboard – After logging into http://webcourses.niu.edu click the “Services” tab at the top of the page and then “Blackboard Faculty Tools”. Click “My Courses” and then follow the links on the displayed window. Instructions and step-by-step tutorials can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/start/request.shtml. In order to request a Blackboard course, individuals must be the “instructor of record” for the course in the MyNIU system.Course space requests take 1 working day to be processed by the automated process in DoIT. It takes an additional day for someone newly assigned as instructor of record in MyNIU to have permission to request the course in Blackboard.
  2. Combining course sections – Those teaching dual level courses (e.g. 400 and 500 or cross-listed courses) or multiple sections may want to combine their sections into one master course. Information about doing that can also be found at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/start/multiplesections.shtml.”Course combine requests” also take 1 working day to be processed. Individuals requesting master courses must be instructor of record in both sections to be combined.
  3. Making courses “available” to students – After creating and posting documents on a Blackboard courses, faculty should make those courses “available” to students. Otherwise, students will not be able to see the courses. The instructions for making courses “available” to students can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/start/availability.shtml.
  4. Blackboard workshopsFaculty Development and Instructional Design Center Center regularly schedules workshops on using Blackboard for teaching purposes, and the monthly program schedules can be found under Quick Links at http://www.niu.edu/facdev.

For those who are not able to attend a workshop, there is also now a Self-Paced Blackboard I workshop consisting of short video demonstrations, available at http://facdev.niu.edu/selfpacedbb1.

Answers to other Frequently Asked Blackboard-related questions can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/faq and Blackboard-related help information can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/atoz.

For login and password-related questions, please refer faculty to the DoIT helpdesk at 815-753-8100 or helpdesk@niu.edu and for other teaching-related Blackboard questions, faculty can submit the questions at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/ask.

Introducing the Teaching Professor Tips App

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Introducing the Teaching Professor Tips App

Get a daily teaching tip delivered to your smart phone or tablet with the new Teaching Professor Tips app. Brief and to the point, each tip provides a nugget of wisdom regarding assignment strategies, student engagement, classroom management, instructional vitality, and much more.

The free app lets you:

  • Get one tip every day (365/year)
  • Specify the time of day you want to receive your tip
  • Share favorite tips on social media or email
  • Send your own tips to the editor

Download the FREE Teaching Professor Tips app today!

Download on iTunes >>

Download on Google Play >>

New Online Program Development and Support Services Now Available

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It’s now easier than ever before for faculty and staff interested in online teaching to receive support for developing and teaching new online courses online at NIU. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services have joined forces to provide centralized support for online course design and development as part of the new Office of Online Program Development and Support (OPDS).

OPDS LogoThe Online Program Development and Support (OPDS) Office was formed to strengthen NIU’s position as an institution offering high-quality online programs and courses. This office combines the talents of the professional staff in the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services. The office provides instructional design services, faculty development opportunities and quality assurance guidelines and strategies to create and support programs moving to online or blended delivery. The office also manages the promotion of NIU online offerings through several outlets including, the NIUOnline web portal, the Online and Regional Academics portal, and through customized email and other media campaigns.

The office is building communities of support and inquiry for faculty engaging in online instruction and interested in research in the field. Additionally, OPDS will engage online learners in a supportive community, reflecting best practices identified by research in the field.

For more information about the online program development and support services available, visit opds.niu.edu or email opds@niu.edu. For the latest news, trends, resources, tips, and best practices for online teaching and learning, follow NIU OPDS on Facebook or Twitter.

Call for Nominations for the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Awards

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The purpose of these awards is to acknowledge and recognize outstanding graduate teaching assistants for their contributions to the teaching mission of Northern Illinois University.


Each recipient of the award will be presented with a plaque and recognized at the Graduate Student Reception sponsored by the Graduate School at the end of the spring semester. Usually three awards are presented, and at least one of the awards will be presented to an outstanding graduate teaching assistant pursuing a master’s degree at NIU.


To be eligible for this award, each candidate must:

  1. be enrolled as a graduate student in good standing at NIU during the semester the award nominations are due,
  2. have been employed during the past 2 years at NIU as a graduate teaching assistant for one or more semesters, excluding the semester of nomination,
  3. have been responsible for teaching a course fully as the primary instructor of record or teaching-related support (example: leading discussions, grading, tutoring, recitation, etc.) which involved student contact as part of the graduate teaching assistant employment,
  4. have contributed above and beyond the general expectations of the position,
  5. have not previously received this award at NIU.

Nomination Process and Deadline

Each academic or academic support unit that employs graduate TAs for teaching and related activities is invited to nominate two (2) outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants, one at the master’s level and the other at the doctoral level, from its department/school for the awards. Nominations should be submitted by the head of the academic department/school or designee. Nominators must complete the nomination form for each nominee and email it with any supporting documents by Friday, March 6, 2015 to tadev@niu.edu with the subject line “Nomination for 2015 Outstanding TA Awards”.

Additional Information

For additional information, please check the Frequently Asked Questions section or contact Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at 815-753-8100 or tadev@niu.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the criteria applied for selecting award recipients?
    The criteria applied for selecting award recipients are the nominees’ eligibility for the award and the information provided in the “Nominee Information” portion of the Nomination Form.
  2. My school/department has several majors/programs and so can we nominate a TA from each major/program?
    No, each school or department can nominate only one TA at the master’s level and one TA at the doctoral level. If there are many outstanding graduate teaching assistants in several programs within the department/school, then you may want to select the best one among them and nominate that individual for that award.
  3. Our unit is not a department or school but is an independent academic program/center. Are our teaching assistants eligible for the award?If your TA is teaching a course or providing teaching-related support for your academic program/ center that is independent of an academic department or school, then you can nominate that TA as a nominee from your program/center for the award.
  4. Can I nominate a TA teaching or providing teaching-related support in my department/school but pursuing a degree in another department/school?Yes, you can nominate that TA as a nominee from your department/school.
  5. How can I find out which TA development programs our TA attended at Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center?If your TA does not remember the TA development programs he or she had attended, you can obtain a list of TA development programs your TA attended at Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center by emailing to tadev@niu.edu at least 2 working days before the nomination deadline.
  6. What makes a nomination stand out and improves the nominee’s chances for being selected for the award?Along with providing information for all the items in the nomination form and clearly indicating that the nominee satisfies the eligibility criteria, the nomination form should provide:
    1. A detailed explanation of nominee’s contributions to teaching above and beyond the general expectations of the TA position, that is, outstanding contributions.
    2. Tangible evidence such as summary of nominee’s student evaluations to support nominee’s outstanding teaching or teaching-related support.
    3. It helps if a nominee has received or has been nominated for departmental/school or college teaching awards and has attended or presented professional development programs to enhance his or her teaching skills.

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