UR Blackboard Maintenance, December 29th

Blackboard will be unavailable for routine monthly maintenance Friday, December 29, beginning at 6 p.m. Please know the system will not be available between 6 p.m. and approximately 11 p.m. and no changes will be made to course content but there WILL be a change in the inline grading feature. This feature is used to grade student work and for students to review comments on their work. Please visit this link for additional information: http://blog.richmond.edu/blackboard/2017/12/14/inline-grading-change-in-blackboard/ This outage will  patch Java and the server operating system.

Please make sure all work (assignments, tests, quizzes, etc.) is completed prior to 6 p.m. or due after midnight!

Please make sure you have updated your browsers and cleared your cookies and cache before logging onto the system after the outage. For assistance, please refer to our blog post: https://blog.richmond.edu/blackboard/2016/04/17/browsers-and-blackboard/. If you have any questions or problems, please contact blackboard@richmond.edu.

Inline Grading Change in Blackboard

After the maintenance on December 29th, the following change will be reflected in the inline grading feature in Blackboard.

Crocodoc transition to New Box View

Blackboard’s current service for the implementation of inline grading is through the Crocodoc API, and Box Inc. has decided to discontinue it. The end-of-life date for the Crocodoc API is January 15, 2018.

As a result, Blackboard has updated their inline grading capability to leverage the New Box View API. New Box View offers several improvements over Crocodoc, including improved rendering fidelity and expanded support for new file types. Inline grading will continue to work in supported Blackboard Learn releases after January 15th, 2018. The University of Richmond will update our server on December 29th and move to the new Box View.

Transition timing

During this time period, the Crocodoc service and ability to view documents within the browser won’t be available but the rest of Learn will function properly. The document viewing capabilities are the only feature affected during the transition.

After the transition, users can’t change the existing annotations made in Crocodoc as all annotations are read-only in New Box View. The Crocodoc annotations are “burned” into a PDF and users can’t remove or change the annotations. Users can add new annotations with the New Box View annotation tools, but they can’t interact with annotations created in Crocodoc.

What can users expect?

This table compares the two annotation services.

Functions and Details


New Box View

File types for annotations


Over 100 different file types

File Types and FontsSupported in Box Content Preview

Videos and images displayed



Course areas

Original Assignments

Original Assignments and Ultra Tests (essay questions and additional attachments)

Annotation types

Text- and point-based comments, highlighting, and drawing

Point-based comments and highlighting


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




Can’t add annotations to documents

Can’t add annotations to documents

Working with annotations in New Box View

Instructors and roles with grading privileges

  • Must assign grades, and in the Ultra Course View, post the grades, before students can view annotations.
  • Can’t 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 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.

Make the transition

We understand that our users may have come to rely on Crocodoc when they do inline grading in Blackboard. After we upgrade, the transition to the New Box View will be as seamless as possible. Crocodoc will not be available for a few minutes and then New Box View replaces Crocodoc in the affected course grading areas.

*Comparison view of Crocodoc and New Box View annotations on an assignment

Frequently Asked Questions

After the end-of-life date for Crocodoc, what will happen to data stored in Crocodoc if a Learn instance isn’t updated to use New Box View?

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 data that persists in Crocodoc doesn’t imply that your institution can continue to use the service in any way beyond January 15, 2018. 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. While we don’t have a timeline available yet, we have no expectation of a decommission of Crocodoc servers.

After the end-of-life date for Crocodoc and during the migration, what will users see in a course if a Learn instance isn’t updated to use New Box View? Will training will be required for users?

After the end-of-life date and during the migration, the Crocodoc service will display a “Service Unavailable” message to users.

New Box View will completely replace the Crocodoc feature in Learn, with the same general user experience and interface elements. Users will see some slight differences in the UI, primarily more streamlined buttons and options.

You shouldn’t expect significant change management for your users. Some users may not notice the change at all due to the similar nature of the UI between the two services.

*Comparison view of Crocodoc and New Box View annotations on an assignment

Will the transition have any impact on the use of rubrics for grading? Will instructors be able to use the same rubrics for the New Box View as they currently do for Crocodoc?

The transition won’t impact 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.

Can an institution customize or alter the integration with New Box View?

Blackboard has a central account with Box and manages all Learn customer accounts centrally, so customers have no management burden. We don’t have the ability for customers to customize or alter the integration. A Learn customer can’t request that Blackboard enable a special Box tool or feature.

Requesting Blackboard Courses

For faculty choosing to use Blackboard with their academic courses, a new Blackboard course must be requested each semester. To request a Blackboard course, please follow these few steps.
Go to https://blackboard.richmond.edu and Log into Blackboard with your NetID and Password.


On the next screen, Click on the Faculty Course Request Tab.

Follow the prompts to request an academic course.

Instructors: are your student photos not showing up?

Multiple faculty have called in to the CTLT reporting that student photos are not working.  First off, it should only be available for those who are an “instructor” in an academic course (Course ID begins with 201510_).

So far we have found that all issues were the result of a copied course from a past semester into a new one.  This is completely okay, but the instructor must acknowledge the notification message in the new course that the copy had completed.  An example of this is shown below.  Please click the “X” button in the upper, right-hand corner of the orange notification bar and then you should be able to get student photos in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 12.09.13 PM


Blackboard Mobile Change Information

Effective August 1, 2017, Mobile Learn will be removed from all app stores.  After August 31, 2017, Blackboard will no longer support Mobile Learn. Clients should transition now to the Blackboard app for students (available now) and the Blackboard Instructor app for educators (scheduled for release next week.  These two applications offer an enhanced, user-centric mobile experience that puts critical teaching and learning tools right in users’ hands.  All users can expect increased efficiency with our simplified workflows built to complete on the go.

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