A new annotation tool for Blackboard Assignments
The maintenance window on Monday 18 December will result in a change to the Blackboard assignment tool. The annotation tool which allows staff to directly comment on student submissions and write feedback on student papers will change from the existing 'Crocodoc' tool to a new tool called 'Box'.
Recommendation to prepare for changeover
It is recommended that on December 18th, during the changeover to the new annotation tool teaching staff should ensure that they are not midway through marking a Blackboard assignment. Teaching staff should complete all marking of Blackboard assignments prior to December 18, or start marking Blackboard assignments after December 18.
What's new with the Box annotation tool?
The previous tool, Crocodoc, allowed inline comments on Word, PowerPoint, Excel, JPG or PDF file types. The new Box inline commenting tool now allows inline commenting on a wider range of text and image file types including DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF, DCM and many others.
Box also provides a native player to playback audio and video files so staff can view these files from Box. This saves staff having to download and view audio and video files with the appropriate audio or video player. A wide range of audio and video file formats are accepted by Box for playback such as AAC, M4A, MP3, WAV, WAM, 3GP, MOV, MP4, WV, WMA.
The type of inline annotations is now limited to highlighting text and writing comments. Previous features such as free-hand drawing are no longer available.
Box adds a new feature of printing the original file. Currently both download and printing is restricted to the original file only. The ability to download or print papers with their annotations will become available in future updates to the tool.
All other aspects of the Blackboard assignment tool remain the same, including the student submission process, group submissions, accepting all file types, multiple file submissions, student email receipts, grading assignments, rubrics, as well as general feedback and grades.
What happens to the old Crocodoc annotations?
All inline comments added to all Blackboard assignments prior to the December 18, from 2017 and past years, will be migrated across to Box and be viewable but not editable; annotations will be migrated as uneditable objects and will not be able to be deleted. A PDF of the paper with its migrated annotations can still be downloaded after December 18.
Prior to December 18, staff or students who wish to keep an offline record of a Blackboard assignment with its annotations can download it by:
- Viewing the assignment with its annotations
- Clicking the 'Download' button
- Selecting 'Download annotated PDF'