Changes to Inline Grading-Effective January 2018

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Changes Coming to Inline Grading - Transitioning to the New Box View Service

Blackboard Learn has an online document viewer with inline annotation tools for the Assignments tool provided by a company called Crocodocs. This tool and service has been purchased by a company called New Box View. As a result, Crocodocs will not be available after of January 15, 2018. Inline grading will continue to work in your courses after January 15th, 2018. The switch to the new tool in Assignments will occur during the first week of January. This change will only affect users of the inline grading feature in Assignments.

"Side-by-side comparison of Crocodocs to Box"
Side-by-side comparison of Crocodocs to Box - Click image to expand to full view

Please note, we had no choice to continue with Crocodocs. It will end as of January 15, 2018, and will be replaced by New Box View.

With this change comes some more desirable features, and the loss of a few cherished options.

Wins The benefits of this new tool and upgrade include:

  • Expanded support for file types and fonts.
  • The LMS Team will complete an upgrade to Blackboard to be installed just prior to the switch on December 22, 2017 which will contain several fixes and security improvements.

Losses There will be a loss of some functionality such as:

  • free-hand drawing,
  • strikeout through text, and
  • printing out an annotated document.

Blackboard is well-aware of the desire to continue some of these more popular features and we hope in time, with ample pressure from the community, that those features return.

Using the new Box product will not impact using course's rubrics or rubric data. You will still be able to use the same rubrics within the inline grading interface alongside the New Box View service.

What will I notice with the New Box View Tool?
"New Document Annotating Tools in New Box View"
New Document Annotating Tools in New Box View - Click image to expand to full view
"Using the Comment Tool"
Using the Comment Tool - Click image to expand to full view
Using the Highlighting Tool"
Using the Highlighting Tool - Click image to expand to full view

In order to switch to the New Box View tool, we have to transition all of the previous crocodoc annotated documents into the new system. This will disable access to this part of the tool for a few hours. Outages are posted to our Blackboard Downtime page, as well as ITS Hot News page. During that time it will not be possible to view Blackboard Assignment Submissions using the marking interface, but the submissions can be downloaded direct to your computer.

Once the transition to the new document viewer and online marking interface is complete assignments that were marked with the old interface will have any annotations that had been made during marking burned in and those existing annotations will no longer be editable. Additional annotations can be made over the top of these old assignments if required.

New and existing assignments will then use the new document viewer and online marking interface. Below, more of the features are detailed:

Instructors and Roles with Grading Privileges

  • Can not edit or remove existing Crocodoc annotations in New Box View as the annotations are “burned” into a PDF during migration.
  • Can add or edit New Box View annotations after a grade is assigned. However, when delegated grading is enabled, only instructors can add or edit annotations in New Box View after grades are assigned.

Delegated Grading is Enabled and No Grades are Assigned

  • Graders who aren’t allowed to view other graders’ annotations, won’t see any annotations—even their own—after the migration to New Box View. Graders see students’ original documents. The “hidden annotations” are necessary because graders shouldn’t see other grader or instructor annotations that existed before the migration.

Delegated Grading is Enabled and Grades are Assigned

  • After grades are assigned in your course, graders can view all annotations made in Crocodoc and New Box View.
  • Students may be able to see all annotations based on the Provisional Grades setting within the Delegated Grading capabilities.

More about Crocodoc and New Box View annotations use cases

Differences between Crocodoc and New Box View
Functions and Details Crocodoc New Box View
File types for annotations PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCX Over 100 different file types
Videos and images displayed No Yes (Videos cannot be commented on)
Course areas Assignments Assignments
Annotation types Text- and point-based comments, highlighting, and drawing Point-based comments and highlighting
Download You can download a copy of a student file with the option to download in the original format or in a PDF version that includes the annotations You can download a copy of a student file, but annotations made in Box won’t appear. Legacy annotations made in Crocodocs will still appear in the download.
Print function No Yes
Students Can’t add annotations to documents Can’t add annotations to documents

Frequently Asked Questions - Crocodocs to New Box View

What is "inline grading" anyway?

Inline Grading is the ability to use a web browser to add annotations such as comments or highlighting a block of text on a student assignment attempts on Blackboard.

Who is affected by the change?

The change to New Box View will only affect instructors who used the Crocodocs (inline grading) feature in Blackboard only. If instructors enter feedback into the "Feedback for Learners" box in the Assignment grading screen, and provide a grade only, the change to the new tool will not affect your previous work.

When will this happen?

The change to New Box View will occur during the first week of January 2018, so we don't interrupt grading occurring for the Fall 2017 semester, but be ready for the Winter 2018 semester.

Does this affect using the SafeAssign (Plagiarism Detection tool)?

No. Using SafeAssign and accessing Originality reports is not impacted by the change to New Box View.

Does this change affect using Rubrics in any way?

The transition won’t impact using Blackboard Learn's rubrics or rubric data. Instructors will be able to use the same rubrics within the inline grading interface alongside the New Box View service. Rubrics are a separate feature that doesn’t share code with the Crocodoc or New Box View service.

What happens to all of my work using Crocodocs (Inline_Annotations)?

Annotations made in Crocodoc will not be editable when they are migrated to New Box View – they will be burned into the document. This applies to any existing annotation on a submission in Crocodoc – regardless of whether the assignment has been released to students or not. While the Crocodoc service will technically reach end-of-life, the databases that contain student-submitted data and documents won’t be deleted or destroyed. The data will still be available for migrations that occur after the end-of-life date, as well as for critical situations such as grade challenges. The Crocodoc service will display a “Service Unavailable” message to users after this date. Blackboard is working with Box to define a long-term strategy for the decommission of Crocodoc servers permanently.

How will the transition to New Box View affect inline grading in Bb Grader?

Inline grading in the Bb Grader app will result in an error when accessing documents for the first time. Subsequent viewing will properly render the document. Users can work around this issue by closing and then reloading the Bb Grader app. Simply double tap the home button, swipe on Bb Grader to force close it, re-open Bb Grader, and open the submission.

Why are we doing this now?

We have no choice in the matter, and normally, would not implement a change like this during the academic year. Box has purchased Crocodocs and as such, Crocodocs will be deprecated (taken out of service) January 15, 2018. More on the acquisition in this article detailing the change.

Who can I contact with questions?

You can contact the LMS Team by emailing or log in and submit a Service Request through the TeamDynamix system at detailing any problems or questions you may have.

Potential Issues Using New Box View

Annotated PDF Files not available to print or download

Following the transition to New Box View during the first week of January, new annotations and comments cannot be downloaded for viewing offline. Screenshots of annotations can be taken, but because the annotations only appear when one hovers their mouse over the correct area, it is only possible to screenshot one annotation at a time. Using a third-party tool to do annotations, such as MS Word and track changes, will enable users to download a file if that is needed. This can be attached in the Feedback to Learner section, vs using the inline annotations.

It will, however, still be possible to download the original submissions.

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