Inline Grading

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    FAQs - Inline Grading and the Transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View API

    Introduction:

    This FAQ answers some of the most common questions about an upcoming change related to the Blackboard Learn Inline Grading feature, and the transition from the Crocodoc API to the New Box View API. 

    If you have additional questions about these support bulletins, or this FAQ, please contact Xiaoling Gan Ext 2463 or helpdesk@morton.edu
     

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

    Box Inc. – the provider Blackboard uses to support the Inline Grading capability – made a decision to discontinue availability of the Crocodoc API, which is the service Blackboard Learn uses for the current implementation of Inline Grading feature.  As a result, we have decided to update this capability to leverage the New Box View API, which will allow the feature to continue to work in supported Blackboard Learn releases after January 15th, 2018, which is the end of life date for the Crocodoc API.
     

    What do clients need to do to start using the New Box View in place of Crocodoc API?

    Clients will need to upgrade their Learn instance(s) to a version of Learn that supports the New Box View API.  The Learn versions that will support the New Box View API are 9.1 Q2 2016, 9.1 Q4 2016, 9.1 Q2 2017, and 9.1 Q4 2017 (planned for release in October 2017).  Our current plan is to deliver the change in a Cumulative Update for most of the supported releases – see below for more information.  Once the upgrade is complete, no other action is required.
     
    Will the Inline Grading feature work for the 9.1 Q4 2015 release, or earlier releases, as of January 16th, 2018?
    No.  The releases that will support the New Box View API are listed above.

    Will there be an outage or downtime when transitioning between the Crocodoc API and the New Box View API?

    Due to the transitional nature of moving from one service to another, it is possible that Blackboard Learn will require an outage period or moratorium relating to Crocodoc usage to prevent data loss during the transition.  As we finalize the implementation approach, we will provide more information on this topic.

    My institution uses the SaaS deployment method. Will my version of Learn support the New Box View API?

    Yes.  Because the SaaS Continuous Delivery and Flexible Deployment Options are on versions of Learn that will fully support the New Box View API, SaaS clients can continue using the Inline Grading feature with the New Box View API, if they wish.  We will provide an updated schedule for Continuous Delivery and Flexible Deployment Option clients when the Q4 2017 release becomes available.

    Will the new Inline Grading feature be able to toggle between the New Box View API and Crocodoc API (so we can install it and not immediately enable the New Box View API while working on change management) or will the shift to the New Box View API be "all-at-once?"

    No, transitioning to the use of the New Box View API for the Blackboard Learn Inline Grading feature will be "all at once."  This will occur when a client upgrades to one of the supported versions of Learn for which the Inline Grading capability is updated to work with the New Box View API.  Any changes in the way the Inline Grading capability works due to changes to the New Box View API will be fully documented by Blackboard and included in our release notes and on help.blackboard.com to assist with change management.

    What happens to client data previously submitted to Crocodoc if a Learn instance is not upgraded to a version that uses the New Box View API before the Crocodoc EOL?

    On January 15th, 2018, the Crocodoc service will no longer accept new documents nor allow users to access previously submitted documents.  However, the client data associated with that instance will still exist in either the Crocodoc or New Box View database.  Blackboard is working with Box on an appropriate strategy for retaining and accessing Crocodoc client data after the Crocodoc EOL date, and Blackboard will provide an update when more details are available.

    What will happen to the Inline Grading user interface for a specific Learn instance that is not upgraded to a version that uses the New Box View service as of January 15th, 2018?

    On January 15th, 2018, the Crocodoc service will no longer accept new documents nor allow users to access previously submitted documents.  The Crocodoc experience will likely present users with a "service no longer available" screen in place of the document being requested. Blackboard is actively working with Box on an appropriate experience for users requesting documents from Crocodoc after January 15th, 2018, and Blackboard will provide an update when more details are available.

    What will happen if, after we upgrade to a supported version that includes the New Box View API, an instructor goes into an old course and opens a student assignment submitted to Crocodoc?

    Client data that exists in Crocodoc will be accessible in the New Box View service after upgrade.  The exact implementation and user experience details are still being determined.  Blackboard will provide an update when more details are available

    We've never used or enabled the Inline Grading capability at my school. Does this change affect me?

    No.  If you have never enabled the Inline Grading capability on your Learn instance(s), this change will have no impact.

    How long will existing submissions and annotations remain available?

    Blackboard is working with Box on an appropriate strategy for retaining Crocodoc client data after the Crocodoc EOL date, and Blackboard will provide an update when more details are available.  It is important to note that all original student submissions are stored in Learn in addition to being sent to Crocodoc for conversion and display within the Inline Grading interface.  Learn course archives contain original student submissions only, a known limitation.

    When a Blackboard course is archived, will the inline feedback via the New Box View API be archived?

    The current plan for the integration with the New Box View API includes the ability to archive annotations and feedback provided within the document when a course is archived.  This would be an improvement over the current functionality of Crocodoc, which does not include annotations on documents when courses are archived.  The technical feasibility and implementation details of this specific use case are still being investigated, and Blackboard will provide an update when more information is available.

    Is there going to be a different look/workflow for instructors and students using Inline Grading with the New Box View API?

    We are finalizing the design and implementation of the Inline Grading feature using the New Box View API.  The feature will work in largely the same way it does today, and the design/workflow will be largely unchanged.  However, because the New Box View APIs are not exactly the same as the Crocodoc APIs, there will be some changes to the Inline Grading feature, and we will document those fully once the implementation is complete.  Some expected benefits of the New Box View service are annotation capabilities for students, localization for the UI, and a significantly expanded number of supported document types.

    When will we be able to see how the Inline Grading feature using the New Box View service will look and work within our systems?

    You will be able to see the Inline Grading feature using the New Box View API when we provide the update to one of our supported releases (see earlier answer for details), and you choose to install it on a test or staging environment.

    Will users be able to annotate assignment files using the New Box View API in both desktop and mobile?

    The first implementation of the New Box View service for Learn will provide the same capabilities on mobile browsers as Crocodoc.  Blackboard may consider improving the experience for mobile browsers in the future.  We are still working to define the implementation strategy for our native mobile apps.  Blackboard will provide an update when more information is available.

    Will the New Box View integration allow Instructors to modify other markers' annotations?

    While this may be possible with the New Box View API, the first implementation of the New Box View API in place of Crocodoc will not support this scenario. Blackboard may consider adding this ability in the future.

    Will the New Box View service (and Blackboard's integration with it) offer a Canadian Hosting capability so that Canadian Blackboard clients can have their inline grading assignments hosted in Canada (for our privacy impact assessment)?

    The New Box View service infrastructure is built on and served from Box's internally-managed infrastructure, similar in concept to Blackboard's Managed Hosting infrastructure.  Box does not have infrastructure regions outside of the United States at this time.


    Are there any changes to the terms of use between Crocodoc and the New Box View service?  

    In order to provide certain functionality and capabilities within our products, Blackboard occasionally integrates third-party technologies to augment our internally developed tools.  In the case of Box, Blackboard maintains the relationship with the vendor and responsibility of adhering to its policies.  This means that customers will not be required to enter into a separate agreement with Box, and Blackboard will be the sole point of responsibility for the handling of user data.  Blackboard customers’ usage of the Crocodoc service within Blackboard Learn is covered in this way today, and this relationship and expectation will remain in place when customers transition to using the New Box View service.

    After the EOL date for Crocodoc, what will happen to data stored in Crocodoc if a Learn instance is not updated to use the New Box View service? 

    While the Crocodoc service will technically reach “end of life,” the databases containing submitted student data and documents will not be deleted or destroyed – this means that the data will still be available for migrations that occur after the EOL date, as well as for critical situations such as grade challenges.  This does not mean that we will be honoring requests to retrieve individual papers on a regular basis, and the data persisting in Crocodoc does not imply the ability to continue using the service in any way beyond Jan 15, 2018. 

    Blackboard is still working with Box to define a long-term strategy for decommissioning Crocodoc servers permanently, but there is not a current timeline available and no expectation of near-term decommissioning. 

    When Crocodoc is no longer available (after the EOL date or during transition), what will users see in the Learn interface if a Learn instance is not updated to use the New Box View service?  Will training will be required for users? 

    After the EOL date and during the migration, the Crocodoc service will display a user-friendly splash page informing users of the unavailability of the service. 

    The New Box View service will completely replace the Crocodoc feature in exactly the same locations within Learn, with the same general user experience and interface elements.  There will be some slight differences in the UI, primarily more streamlined buttons and options. 

    Customers should not expect significant change management for their users, and it is likely some users may not notice the change at all.  Screenshots will be provided as a part of formal documentation with the Q4 2017 release and relevant CUs. 

    What will be required of clients and what is the expected workload through the transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View Service? 

    Blackboard is building proprietary, internal tools to assist clients in the data migration process with the goal of making the transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View service a “one click” activity to make the transition as easy as possible.  These internal tools will be transparent to Learn clients and Administrators.   

    This means that Administrators will not need to take on additional work to enable the move between the two services.  The switch for initiating the transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View Service will be available within the config settings for the Inline Grading Building Block after the relevant CU or Q4 2017 release. 

    Will there be downtime required for the transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View service? 

    When the switch mentioned above is triggered, the Crocodoc service will not be available during the migration; however, the Learn instance as a whole and all other functions of the system will be available.  The transition between Crocodoc and the New Box View services will vary based on the number of documents submitted to the service by each client, but is not expected to take longer than 3-4 hours. 

    Does Blackboard have a recommendation to clients on when to make the transition between the Crocodoc and New Box View services? 

    Our guidance to customers will be to perform the transition between the two services during an off-academic period where grading and feedback are not occurring (early morning hours are acceptable); this will help eliminate possible confusion for users when interacting with the Inline Grading workflows.  The expected unavailability of the Crocodoc service should be considered immediately after the Learn instance is updated and as an addendum to the planned downtime for the Learn instance. 

    There are a number of complex and nuanced use cases relating to Grades being marked "complete", Anonymous Grading, and Delegated Grading functionality.  These exact use cases and the expected behavior of these features based on when a document is submitted (before or after Crocodoc EOL) will be included in the formal documentation provided with the Q4 2017 release and relevant CUs. 

    When will clients have access to a version of Learn that makes the New Box View service available? 

    As stated in the previous article, Frequently Asked Questions:  Inline Grading and the Transition from Crocodoc to the New Box View API, CUs for previous versions of Learn will be available in the same timeframe as Q4 2017 which will be October.  Given the time between today and October, we cannot provide exact dates for CUs or Q4 2017 yet – however, as soon as we finalize release dates for Q4 2017 and CUs for older Learn versions we will provide an additional update.  

    Box has announced the Crocodoc EOL on Jan 15th 2018.  Is there flexibility on this date? 

    Box has announced the Crocodoc EOL date, not Blackboard.  There is no flexibility on this date and is outside of Blackboard’s control.