The Center for Talent Development's Gifted Learning Links Program
Apply for CTD's Gifted Learning Links Program
Getting Started

Congratulations and welcome to Gifted LearningLinks at Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development! Your acceptance into this program is an indication of your high abilities and past achievements. You should be both proud and confident of the choice you have made.

Gifted LearningLinks (GLL) will be an opportunity and a challenge for you, and your success will require diligence, self-motivation and careful organization. As a Gifted LearningLinks student, you must make a personal commitment to your course. You must use your independent study skills and time management skills to complete your course work in a timely fashion.

Though many Gifted LearningLinks courses allow for some degree of self-pacing, you are expected to adhere to assignment deadlines that the course instructor has set. However, you can decide if you want to do your course work daily or spend part of your weekend completing assignments. If you will be away on vacation or have other conflicts that will cause you to be unable to work on your course during that time, please discuss your schedule with your teacher as soon as you have this information. Communication is key to a successful experience.

NEW!:  Beginning in January, ALL GLL courses will be held in our new Learning Management System (LMS), Schoology.
  • You will receive additional e-mails regarding how to access your Schoology account closer to the start date.  Additional information regarding what to expect if your course is held in Schoology is below.
  • If you are currently enrolled in a course in Blackboard, you will continue to access that course (that you started prior to January, 2015) via Blackboard.  Additional directions for students whose course is in Blackboard are retained below just in case.  Blackboard will be retired in August, 2015. 
  • For all courses, you can find information regarding any texts, books or online lab subscriptions that may be required for your course at the Center for Talent Development Bookstore -  If you do not find information about your course at this site, it may be that your course does not require a textbook. Please refer to the course syllabus posted on your course site or contact your instructor to confirm.

  • A student Schoology account will be created for you and you will be sent log in information prior to your course start date (no NetID is required for Schoology accounts).  Account information will be sent to the e-mail address used to register the student. Families that have more than one child participating will get different log ins for each child.  If one child is taking multiple courses, s/he will only need one log in to access all courses.
  • You will be sent information regarding how to log in to Schoology.  A separate email will provide you with your user name and password.  Your username and password will be the same.  GLL highly recommends that you change your password immediately.
  • You will be enrolled in a "Welcome" course in Schoology, allowing you to explore the LMS and test out some of the many new features.  Your course will become available for you on your start date.
  • You will have the option of adding your email to your Schoology account once in.  GLL highly recommends students taking credit-bearing courses provide a personal email (NOT a parent email) that can be easily accessed.  There is also a Schoology app that allows students to receive course notifications to their smartphones.
  • Some students may have one (or more) course in Schoology and another in Blackboard (if previously enrolled in a current GLL course)-this will require some students to log in to both LMSs for the duration of their courses.

Things to Do (Blackboard)
This will seem like a great deal of information, but once you have done the items below, you will be all set to take the course and will not have to do these things again.

1. Print and save NetID e-mail.
You recently received an acceptance e-mail with your NetID and an Activation Code. (Your NetID is a username assigned by Northwestern that allows you to access your course site.) Please print out this e-mail and keep it in a safe place, as you will need it every time you access your course site. Your NetID will always remain the same.  The Activation Code allows you to set your own password as well as security questions/answers to change it in the future.  
2. Use your Activation Code to Change Your NetID Password.
The Activation Code you received will allow you to change your NetID Password. On the NU Validate log in page (, enter your NetID in the NetID field, then enter the Activation Code into the Password field to change your NetID password. The activation code gives you access only to NU Validate for your NetID password change; it will not give you access to University resources, including departmental and public lab computers and NU wireless. Your NetID password plays an important role in maintaining a secure network for everyone at Northwestern University, and you are required to change it every 365 days.

A password must:

  • be 8-31 characters in length.
  • contain a non-alphanumeric character such as ( ! ] $ & * , + =

A password cannot:

  • include more than four sequential characters from your last seven NetID passwords.
  • include a single quote ( ' ), a double quote ( " ), a number sign ( # ), a less-than sign ( < ), a question mark ( ? ), a pipe ( | ), or a backslash ( \ ).
  • include character strings from your name or your NetID (examples for "James Smith": "James", "Smith").
  • include reserved strings (example: "wild", "cats").
  • include repeated letters or numbers (example: "aaa", "333").
  • include sequential characters (example: "123", "abc").
3. Acquire necessary texts and/or supplies.
You can find information regarding any texts, books or online lab subscriptions that may be required for your course at the Center for Talent Development Bookstore -  If you do not find information about your course at this site, it may be that your course does not require a textbook. Please refer to the course syllabus posted on your course site or contact your instructor to confirm.  (See Item #6 below for instructions on accessing your course site.)

4. Log in to the Blackboard Course Management System.
Once you have changed your password, log in to the Blackboard Course Management System by entering your NetID and newly selected password. The Blackboard site is one that you may want to bookmark or save in your favorites since this is a site that you will be visiting often throughout your enrollment with GLL.  (

In the unlikely event that you are unable to successfully log in to the Blackboard site, please go to the course management help and support site. Tutorials and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) are also available on our Gifted LearningLinks website. If you are still having difficulty, please e-mail with an explanation of the error that you receive.

5. Begin the Gifted LearningLinks Orientation to Online Learning.
Once you have successfully logged into Blackboard, you will see a link to the “Welcome to Gifted LearningLinks” online orientation site listed under “My Courses.” Here, during the first few days of the session, you will participate in an orientation to online learning, which will provide you with the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the Blackboard system, submit practice assignments and quizzes, interact with other GLL students and ask questions of GLL staff.

A real-time orientation session will be held during the first couple days of the session.  Please see the schedule posted on the Gifted LearningLinks Orientation site on the Blackboard Course Management System (click on the "Course Timeline" menu item) for specific times and dates.  Parents and school liaisons are also welcome to attend the orientation session.

While the real-time orientation will not begin until the start of the session, you are encouraged to browse the “Welcome to Gifted LearningLinks” site, as there are resources permanently posted on this site that will give you and your parents an overview of Gifted LearningLinks policies.

6. Connect with your instructor, and begin your course!
At the start of your Gifted LearningLinks session, you will see a link to your individual course site on the “My Courses” page after you have logged into Blackboard. All materials required for your course, including your instructor contact information, syllabus and assignments, can be found there. Your instructor should contact you within the first week of the session. At this time, you should be familiar with your syllabus and ready to ask any questions or express any concerns. Also, this will be your opportunity to establish the optimum time and manner in which to interact with your instructor during the course.

Reminders and Technical Assistance
We cannot emphasize enough how important effective communication is for a successful online learning experience. While instructors initiate contact with students, it is each student’s responsibility to contact the instructor with questions and concerns and to maintain a stable e-mail address that does not filter GLL e-mail or instructor e-mail messages.

Finally, we have created a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and some helpful tutorials on our website to assist you with the start-up process. We highly recommend that you try these in the next few days to avoid any technical difficulties once your course begins.

The FAQs quickly answer the most common technical problems you may encounter, so refer to this first if you think something is wrong.

Again, welcome, and enjoy your Gifted LearningLinks course!

Amy Gyarmathy and Susan Kasper
Program Coordinators
Gifted LearningLinks