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Inline grading is a great Blackboard feature that allows instructors to make comments directly on paper and assignment submissions. However, Box, Inc., the provider that Blackboard uses for this tool, is discontinuing Crocodoc which will alter some of the features of inline grading. Read here for a breakdown of these changes.

Blackboard Learn Inline Grading Changes

What does the change mean for me?

There are several changes to the new inline grading feature in Blackboard.

  • The first is that the strikeout tool is no longer supported.
  • Second, because the comments are no longer noted to the side of the submission as they were with Crocodoc but rather are blue comment boxes in text, the student may not immediately realize that there are comments on their work, especially if they use a title page or there are no errors or comments on the first page. We recommend either making a note to the student in the student feedback box to let them know there are comments or inserting a comment at the start of the submission that is clearly visible that lets the student know there are comments in the submission.
  • Students can use the TAB key to move between comments. This makes finding comments easier.
  • The New Box view not only supports all of the file types Crocodoc supported but now also supports more file types, such as many image files, PowerPoint files, Rich Text Files, and more.  This means that the document will appear in Blackboard and you will not need to download it but rather can comment right in Blackboard. See below for the list of files that can now be annotated.
  • Students are also not able to download a copy of their submission with comments included, they will need to view it in Blackboard to see the instructor comments and feedback.
  • For each comment, you will need to click the comment icon, then click in the document where you want the comment to appear. If you want to add another comment, you must click the comment icon in the toolbar again.

 What is the change, and why is Blackboard making it?

Box Inc.– the provider Blackboard uses to support the Inline Grading capability–decided to update the inline grading and no longer uses Crocodoc which was the service Blackboard Learn used for the Inline Grading feature. As a result, the U of A is updating to the New Box View.

What can users expect?

This table compares the two annotation services:

Functions and Details Crocodoc New Box View
File types for conversion PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCX

Over 100 different file types, including video, audio, image, and programming code



File Types and Fonts Supported in Box Content Preview

File types for annotation PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCX



New Box View also supports only point-based annotations on these file formats:

Course areas Assignments Assignments
Annotation types Text- and point-based comments, highlighting, and drawing Point-based comments and highlighting
Download Users 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 Users can download a copy of a student file, but annotations won’t appear
Print function No Yes
Students Cannot add annotations to documents Cannot add annotations to documents

Working with annotations in New Box View

 Instructors and Roles with Grading Privileges (TAs, etc)
  • You (or the person grading on your behalf) must enter a grade before the student can view the annotations. This allows you to work at your leisure and the students can only view feedback when you are finished.
  • If you have already graded using Crocodoc in a previous semester or course, you and the student still have access to the comments that you made using Crocodoc. However, you are unable to edit or remove the existing Crocodoc annotations in New Box View because the annotations are “burned” into the PDF during migration.
  • Once a grade is assigned, you can still add or edit New Box View annotations. However, when delegated grading is enabled, only instructors can add or edit annotations in New Box View after grades are assigned.
 Delegated Grading
  • If no grades are assigned with delegated grading then graders who are not allowed to view other graders’ annotations will not 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 should not see other grader or instructor annotations that existed before the migration.
  • If there are grades assigned with delegated grading, then after grades are assigned in Blackboard Learn, 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.

Comparison of Crocodoc vs. New Box View

General Appearance

Crocodoc comments were displayed in yellow and indicated by a red arrow.  Box view uses a white window and a blue comment icon.

Crocodoc vs Box view inline grading comments

Note: When entering an attempt for the first time, the preview window states that “the file is being converted” and the waiting time is X seconds. This screen does not update, and clicking the link for the attachment should display the document.


Previous Crocodoc comments appear as a small red arrow.

 previous crocodoc red arrow comment indicator

Hovering over the arrow loads a pop-up with the Crocodoc comment

Crocodoc pop up comment view

Box View

A normal box comment has a blue icon.

box view comment icon

With the new Box view, you have the option of highlighting text and including a comment. However, these highlighted comments do not have the blue icon, making it difficult to see/understand that the highlight also contains comments. (see below) We recommend that if you highlight, you attach a separate comment to the highlighted text. This will show a blue comment icon above the highlighted text.

box view highlighted text with invisible comment

Other useful information about Box view

  • Students cannot download their papers that show all of their comments, and they have to scroll through the document to see if they have comments. If they want a copy of the comments, they may have to take screenshots or view it within Blackboard.
  • Students can title documents using emojis and instructors can provide emojis as comments
  • For each comment, instructors need to click the comment icon, then click in the document where they want the comment to appear. If they want to add another comment, they must click the comment icon in the toolbar again.
  • Print works in Safari, it just brings up a new tab quickly in Chrome.