Skip to main content
pdf?stylesheet=default
Blackboard Help

Cloud FAQs

On this page
  1. Why should you enable the Blackboard Cloud?
  2. Why are some features in Service Pack 10 and later cloud-based?
  3. How do I connect my Blackboard Learn instance to the Cloud?
    1. Connecting the Cloud
    2. Connecting to the Cloud and Firewall Configurations
  4. After my Learn system is connected, how do I enable Blackboard Cloud Profiles and Tools?
  5. After Cloud Profiles and Tools are enabled, can I turn them off?
  6. How will enabling the Blackboard Cloud affect the security of the Learn environment?
  7. After Cloud Profiles and Tools are enabled, what data is being transmitted from Learn to the Blackboard Cloud?
  8. How is a user's session transferred to the Cloud?
  9. Where is Cloud data located?
  10. Why was this done?
    1. A special note for our international clients:
  11. Profile Questions
    1. Are Cloud Profiles and Tools required to be enabled for Software Updates to work?
    2. Are Cloud Profiles automatically created once the cloud is turned on?
    3. What privacy controls do users have for their profile?
    4. Can users delete profiles?
    5. What data can be deleted and by whom?
    6. What happens with inactive profiles?
    7. What is the default privacy setting for profile information transmitted to the Blackboard Cloud?
    8. What information can users change and/or add to their profiles?
    9. Can admins automatically populate Cloud profile pictures?
    10. Does your school have a policy for online abusive behavior and inappropriate content?
    11. What privacy controls do users have for their profile?
    12. Are there Facebook and Twitter integrations with a user profile?
    13. Can Facebook and Twitter integrations be turned off? How?
    14. Can a user with a Blackboard account on more than one Blackboard instance have the same profile?
    15. Can users use any of the social tools without a profile?
    16. Can select courses and organizations be excluded from appearing on the People tool?
  12. Merging existing profiles
  13. Inline assignment grading questions
    1. What is inline assignment grading?
    2. What is Crocodoc?
    3. Does Inline Grading share personally identifiable information to Crocodoc?
    4. After a student submits an assignment, what happens?

Why should you enable the Blackboard Cloud?

Enabling the Blackboard Cloud allows your institution to take advantage of all features within Blackboard Cloud Services. This includes Software Updates, Inline Assignment Grading and enhanced tools to foster Social Learning.

Cloud Profiles and Social Learning Tools are NOT automatically enabled once the Blackboard Cloud is enabled.

These tools will provide your students and educators with an enhanced educational experience that meets the needs of today’s active learner and improves student engagement.

If you do not enable the Blackboard Cloud (by enabling the Cloud Connector) you will not be able to make social learning tools available to your students and educators (with SP 12 or later).

The following chart details what will be available with SP 10 or later when the Blackboard Cloud is enabled and disabled:

SP 10 and later Features Affected by Cloud Cloud Disabled Cloud Enabled
Login Overlay – An overlay screen that the user sees when they log into any SP 10 and later system, which prompts them about some of the new SP 10 and later features. Available Enhanced to include prompting user to create a profile from the overlay.
Global Navigation – The gateway to My Blackboard. Instant access to the new My Blackboard tools as well as a user’s Courses, Organizations, and Settings. Available Enhanced to include the Profile and People icons in the menu.
My Blackboard – A new user experience in Blackboard that consolidates critical information from across all of Learn. Available Enhanced to include the Profile and People tools.
My Blackboard: Profile & Profile Card - Enables users to have an identity in Blackboard so they can discover each other and share relevant information about themselves to foster Social Learning. Not Available without cloud enabled Available. Shows avatar, name, area of study, and about me description on a Profile Card that is visible in the People tool, Posts tool, Roster, User Directory, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals, and Wikis.
My Blackboard: People - Allows users to discover other users at their institution and view user profiles. Not Available without cloud enabled Available. Search within each class, within each Organization if you license Community, and throughout the entire institution.
My Blackboard: Posts - A stream interface that aggregates posts and comments from collaborative tools (Blogs, Journals, Wikis, Discussion Boards) in all Courses (and Organizations if you license Community). Available Enhanced to include Avatar & Profile Cards with the posts.

Why are some features in Service Pack 10 and later cloud-based?

We built some of the SP 10 and later features in the Blackboard Cloud for three reasons:

  1. More Rapid Innovation & Responsiveness: Having capabilities built in the Blackboard Cloud allows for us to build for a single, modern tech stack and deploy to all clients simultaneously. This allows us to be more responsive to client needs, especially regarding quickly evolving technology areas like social, as well as get improvements, enhancements, and new features to you more quickly and efficiently.
  2. Scalability with Less Cost to You: Because of the interactive nature of some of the social features, they have the potential to create high transaction and high traffic behaviors. By putting resource-intensive features in the Blackboard Cloud, Blackboard takes the performance burden off of you and shoulders it ourselves. This results in a better overall experience for our clients and end-users.
  3. Future Cross-institution / Global capabilities: By being in the Blackboard Cloud, the social learning tools can eventually connect users across Bb Learn institutions and create a global Blackboard academic network. Through this network, users will have access to relationships and resources for learning that otherwise would not be accessible to them.

How do I connect my Blackboard Learn instance to the Cloud?

Connecting the Cloud

The cloud must be connected to your Blackboard Learn instance. The "Cloud Settings (Tools)" administrator privilege allows you to manage your Cloud Settings.

On the Administrator Panel, under Cloud Management, select Cloud Connector. The following table describes the available user interface elements.

Element Description
1. Blackboard Learn Instance
External URL Provide your school's Blackboard Learn public facing URL.
2. Cloud Registration
Display Name Provide a display name to identify your school, such as your school's full name. Avoid using any abbreviations in this field.
Description Provide an optional description for your display name.
Instance Type Identify how this Blackboard Learn instance will be used in your environment. Select Production, Development, Staging, or Test.
Site ID A unique Site ID is assigned to your Blackboard Learn instance after it is registered.
Connection Date The date and time your instance was successfully registered.
3. Submit
Submit Select this button if you are ready to submit your setting changes.

Connecting to the Cloud and Firewall Configurations

Bidirectional communication to the Cloud Services is required. If you are running Blackboard from behind a firewall as a test server or for security reasons, you will need to open the firewall to use these features. To open bidirectional communication to Cloud Services, you must configure your firewall to allow responses from the addresses in the following table.

Service Fully Qualified Hostname IP Addresses Ports
BbPatch Repository bbprepo.blackboard.com 69.196.225.81 80
Software Updates version 2.x or earlier, including Blackboard Cloud

handle.blackboard.com or connect.cloud.bb

EGRESS SOURCE: 69.196.224.135, 69.196.227.20, 69.196.225.107, 69.196.227.60

INGRESS SOURCE: 69.196.253.30

443

softwareupdates.blackboard.com or softwareupdates.cloud.bb
Software Updates version 3.x or later, including Blackboard Cloud registrar.cloud.bb

INGRESS SOURCE: 107.23.34.151

EGRESS SOURCE: 69.196.227.60 and see AWS IP Address list

443
softwareupdates.cloud.bb
nat.cloud.bb (inbound communication for Blackboard Cloud features)
Cloud Profiles, Social Profiles and Tools, Blackboard Open Content, Partner Cloud api.cloud.bb, ui.cloud.bb

INGRESS SOURCE: 107.23.34.151

EGRESS SOURCE: 69.196.227.60 and see AWS IP Address list
443
nat.cloud.bb (inbound communication for Blackboard Cloud features)
Flickr MashUp www.flickr.com 98.136.145.152, 206.190.57.60, 98.136.145.153, 206.190.57.61, 80
98.136.145.154, 98.136.145.155, 216.115.101.179, 216.115.101.178
YouTube MashUp gdata.youtube.com 74.125.228.0-14 80
SlideShare MashUp www.slideshare.net 174.36.28.11 80
Blackboard Mobile see Firewall whitelisting 80, 443
SafeAssign www.safeassign.com 69.196.241.20 80, 443,
8080, 8443
McGraw-Hill Connect lms.mcgraw-hill.com 204.8.135.97 and 198.45.24.170 80
natasha.eppg.com

After my Learn system is connected, how do I enable Blackboard Cloud Profiles and Tools?

To turn on the Cloud Profiles and Tools:

  1. On the Administrator Panel, under Cloud Management, select Cloud Profiles and Tools.

  2. Select Off to turn the Blackboard Cloud on.

  3. Read through the Privacy agreement and select Accept.
  4. This opens the Blackboard Cloud Settings page. Optionally, you can add your institutional cloud policy statement.

    The terms of service contract is between Blackboard and the end user only. Adding your institutional policy statement here is only for communicating your institutional policy. It is not a contract.

    You can also make selections regarding how courses and organizations will be displayed in the Blackboard Cloud, exclude selected courses and organizations from appearing on the People tool, as well as integrate Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter will both be ON by default.

After the Blackboard Cloud Profile and Tools option is turned on, users have access to new tools and features.


After Cloud Profiles and Tools are enabled, can I turn them off?

Yes! You can turn the Blackboard Cloud Profiles and Tools off in the Cloud Profiles and Tools menu the same way you turned it on. Select On to turn it off.

Any information created and aggregated to cloud tools and services will no longer be available in your Blackboard Learn Instance. For example, if users have created a profile and cloud has been turned off, they can no longer view or edit that profile from your Blackboard Learn Instance.

The information created and aggregated to the Blackboard Cloud tools and services are not deleted when cloud is turned off, as they are stored in the Blackboard Cloud. For example, if a user has created a profile and the Blackboard Cloud is turned back on, the user-edited profile is restored.


How will enabling the Blackboard Cloud affect the security of the Learn environment?

Multiple layers of security are in place to protect both your Learn Environment and the Bb Cloud. Authentication of users is handled by the Learn instance. The Learn Authentication mechanism - passwords, digital certificates, CAS, and so on does not change with the addition of the Blackboard Cloud.

Users will still be authenticated in the same mechanism that they were before the Blackboard Cloud was enabled. To access the Blackboard Cloud, users must first authenticate to Learn, there is no way to authenticate directly to the Blackboard Cloud. A user's session is created at login using OAuth to securely communicate between the Learn instance and the Blackboard Cloud. The Blackboard Cloud does not change any security in Learn itself.

Access to the Profile service requires a secure connection between the local Learn instance and Blackboard Cloud Services, which is configured once per instance from the Learn Admin Panel. Individual Profiles are tied to a local user account in a Learn instance, and can only be accessed by the user through a Learn instance.

Blackboard is committed to providing our clients secure applications. Blackboard develops products according to a set of security engineering guidelines derived from OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), including specific countermeasures for OWASP Top Ten vulnerabilities. Blackboard incorporates these security practices in all phases of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Requirements must identify authorization requirements for each use case. Technical Design Documentation must include an analysis of potential security risks. Our development teams leverage engineering coding standards to ensure compliance with best practice development methodologies including the prevention of known vulnerabilities and the selection of proven countermeasures during implementation.

Blackboard utilizes several methods to protect our applications including "top-down" security assessments through threat modeling and analysis as well as "bottom-up" code level threat detection. Blackboard is committed to maintaining the timely resolution of any vulnerability affecting our products through development and release processes that ensure the orderly and efficient production and dissemination of security patches.


After Cloud Profiles and Tools are enabled, what data is being transmitted from Learn to the Blackboard Cloud?

When a Cloud profile is created, Blackboard Learn passes first name, last name, and the user’s current course and organization enrollments to the cloud service. All information is passed using SSL and OAuth for security.

A user must agree to the terms of service and submit their edited profile before a profile is created.

If the user makes any changes in their cloud Profile, those changes are not transmitted back to Learn. The cloud service is never the system of record for Learn.

Each time the user logs in, Learn contacts the cloud service with any updates to a user’s Course/Organization enrollments, so that the cloud service stays in sync with current enrollments in Learn. This information is used to populate learning networks in the People tool found in My Blackboard. Additionally, the user locale (i.e. which language they view the Blackboard Learn interface through) is also sent to determine in which language to present the cloud interface.

Other information in the Profile (for example, area of study, an “about me” description, email address, additional contact information, posts, and so on) can be entered into the cloud Profile by the end user. Again, this information is not transmitted back to Learn. The cloud service is never the system of record for Learn.


How is a user's session transferred to the Cloud?

The Bb Cloud does not have its own Authorization mechanism. A user MUST log into Learn to access her Cloud information.

When a user logs into Learn, Learn makes a secure OAuth request to the Cloud to retrieve a one-time use token identifying the user's session. This token is submitted using an iFrame in Learn from the user's browser to the Cloud. If the token is valid (user, time, nonce, LMS instance, etc.) and all match the information submitted from the Learn instance, a Cloud Session cookie is returned to the user's browser. The user is then logged in to both Learn and the Cloud.

When a Learn Session is terminated (either through a logout or a session timeout) Learn will connect to the Cloud using OAuth to terminate the Cloud Session. The cookie is still available on the user’s browser, but the session behind it in the Cloud will be terminated and no further access will be allowed. The entire session lifecycle is synced to the Cloud. If Learn goes down unexpectedly while the user is logged in, the Session will terminate once Learn's max session time limit is reached.

Some configuration options specific to the Internet Explorer browser may interfere with the ability to connect a user successfully to the Cloud. To learn more about setting these options appropriately, see the Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View topic.


Where is Cloud data located?

All data associated with Blackboard's Cloud Services, including Social Profiles and other Social tools, is hosted in Blackboard's Cloud infrastructure.

At the time of launch for Social, our cloud infrastructure will include services and components hosted both within Blackboard Managed Hosting data centers and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. Profile and Social data will reside within the US-based AWS-hosted components.

One of the benefits of cloud-based services is the flexibility they provide to leverage multiple infrastructure platforms, so the details of our service deployments across infrastructure platforms may change over time.


Why was this done?

This was a decision made primarily to contain cost and complexity of the initial release. There are inherent difficulties in architecting a single-tenant, shared cloud application to operate globally that stores user data in a distributed fashion across multiple regional data centers. This increases the complexity of the platform -- and subsequently the cost of developing and supporting it.

We have not ruled out distributed regional data management as a future architectural path, but we have not committed to it either. It's still an open question for future development.

A special note for our international clients:

We understand that some of our international customers may have concerns about using cloud-based services that are managed out of US-based data centers. Legislation around data security and privacy varies by region, country, and sometimes even by province within a country. This landscape is further complicated by institutional policies that may interpret or extend local regulations in a variety of ways.

As we introduce new cloud-based extensions to Learn, beginning with SP 10 and Social Learning, we're mindful of these concerns. We're also seeking to balance these concerns with one of the key benefits of these new capabilities - leveraging the power of cloud-based applications to extend the teaching and learning environment beyond the course and institutional boundaries traditionally imposed by the LMS. Maintaining this benefit while addressing all of the potential concerns around data residency and the resulting privacy implications creates new challenges. We recognize that our initial approach as we introduce these new capabilities will not resolve these concerns for all of our customers. But our recognition of these concerns has informed our approach in several ways:

  • The new cloud-based capabilities are optional, and require activation by an administrator.
  • The new cloud-based capabilities are entirely supplemental, so there is no impact to existing Learn functionality for those institutions that choose not to enable these features.
  • Once the feature has been enabled, privacy settings give individual users control of their own profile data, and require opt-in before that data is discoverable by others.
  • We have designed our cloud services architecture to anticipate the possibility of distributing the data across multiple hosting centers in the future.

We will be paying close attention to adoption patterns as these new cloud-based services are made available, and taking those patterns into consideration as we plan future investments in these capabilities.


Profile Questions

Are Cloud Profiles and Tools required to be enabled for Software Updates to work?

No, the Cloud Connector is a prerequisite for both Software Updates and for Cloud Profiles & Tools. But Cloud Profiles & Tools are not required for Software Updates (nor vice versa).

Are Cloud Profiles automatically created once the cloud is turned on?

No, enabling the Cloud Connector identifies your Blackboard Learn instance to the cloud services. Enabling the Cloud Connector only transfers data about your Blackboard server, not any data about users.

A Cloud Profile is not created until the user agrees to the terms of service and submits their Edit Profile page.

What privacy controls do users have for their profile?

Users have four privacy settings for their profiles:

  1. All Blackboard Users: Anyone with a Blackboard profile can find and message this user. This includes Blackboard users at other schools.
  2. My Institution: This user’s profile is only available to other Blackboard users at their institution.
  3. Private: Following this user requires request and approval. Anyone in their courses, organizations and spaces can find and message them.
  4. Hidden: No other users can view, message or follow this user. They cannot view, message or follow others. They cannot participate in social learning spaces.

Can users delete profiles?

Yes, users can delete their profiles, this is done from the user’s Edit Profile page. When the user selects Delete My Blackboard Profile:

  • The Profile will be deleted. This includes all of the Profile information, the Profile Card, the Avatar photo, the Profile Wall, any posts the user made to the Profile Wall, and any comments other users made on posts.
  • The user may not be able to access some content in their courses. Items that had appeared in a user’s Post tool stream from the cloud services will be inaccessible.
  • The People tool is no longer available. The user will no longer be able to access the People tool, view other user’s full Profiles (although Profile Cards will still be viewable), nor will their Profile be discoverable as it will no longer exist. Any comments they made on other user’s Profile Walls will appear as “Delete User.”
  • The Messages tool is no longer available. The user will no longer be able to access the Messages tool, send cloud Messages (though Course Messages and Send Email will still function normally). Their contribution to any Messages conversations will appear as “Deleted User.”
  • The Spaces tool is no longer available. The user will no longer be able to access Spaces at all. Any previous contributions to Spaces will appear as “Deleted User.”
  • The user will appear anonymously in Blackboard Open Content. Any contributions to Blackboard Open Content Forums or submission to Blackboard Open Content Assignments/Tests will appear as “Deleted User,” in the Blackboard Open Content interface. Note: although the user appears anonymously in the Blackboard Open Content interface, the numeric Blackboard Open Content ID persists and is still mapped on the Learn-side to the Learn user ID, so the submissions to Blackboard Open Content Assignments and Tests still appear attributed to the correct user in Learn. However, that data will not be present in any Blackboard Open Content interface.

If the user chooses to delete their profile, the Profile deletion process is irreversible. The user can always create a new profile, but it will not “re-attach” to any of the data (for example, posts made to Spaces under their initial Profile).

What data can be deleted and by whom?

There's a lot of data that can be deleted. Every field in a Profile is editable by the Profile's owner, so in addition to deleting their Profile, they could effectively "blank out" all of the Profile fields except Display Name and Email, which have to be populated (although they don't have to be populated with "real" data). Editing or blanking out Profile fields does not delete the data transferred to the Cloud Service from Learn, though; that is still retained.

The user can also delete any post or comment they make on their own Profile Wall, on other's Profile Walls, or in Spaces (Profile Walls and Spaces aren't available until the December release of the Social Profiles & Tools features). The creator/manager of a Space can delete any post or comment in the Space or the Space itself.

If a client ceases being a Blackboard customer, we do have the ability to purge the data from their users from the system, although this is a back-end process and must be initiated through Client Support.

What happens with inactive profiles?

After 12 months of inactivity, the cloud service will send an email to the end-user’s Primary Email Address identified in their Profile indicating that their Profile will be deleted automatically in 30 days unless they take steps to retain it.

What is the default privacy setting for profile information transmitted to the Blackboard Cloud?

The ‘Private’ setting is the default setting for information transmitted to the Blackboard Cloud.

What information can users change and/or add to their profiles?

Users can change and/or add the following information: profile picture, how they want their name displayed in their profile (note that this only changes their name as it appears on their profile, not for the entire Learn system), what they are studying, and a brief “about me” description.

Can admins automatically populate Cloud profile pictures?

Cloud profile avatars are determined by the user and cannot automatically be populated by the administrator via the pre-SP 10 Learn avatar or through the Student Information System.

Does your school have a policy for online abusive behavior and inappropriate content?

When Cloud is turned on, all users have a personal profile that they can edit to include an avatar and information they want to share with others at your school. Users can report content in a profile as inappropriate. When a profile has been reported it is the responsibility of the school to review the profile and take action. It is best practice to have rules and policies posted publicly regarding the criteria for blocking or removing a user. Criteria could include but not be limited to: breach of privacy, copyright complaints, pornography, harassment, offensive language, and impersonation.

You can add your institutional policy to the terms of service page from the Cloud Settings page.

The terms of service contract is between Blackboard and the user. If the institutional policy is included it is not contractual.

What privacy controls do users have for their profile?

By default a user's profile privacy setting is set to private. This means that only users enrolled in the same courses and organizations can see the user's profile.

Are there Facebook and Twitter integrations with a user profile?

Yes, when a user creates or edits their profile, they can pull in their profile picture from Facebook or Twitter, their Facebook-specific email address, and/or a brief “about me” description from their Facebook or Twitter profiles.

Can Facebook and Twitter integrations be turned off? How?

Facebook and Twitter integrations can be easily turned off by selecting ON in Profile Tools.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, under Cloud Management, select Cloud Profiles and Tools.
    • The new cloud-based capabilities are optional, and require activation by an administrator.
    • The new cloud-based capabilities are entirely supplemental, so there is no impact to existing Learn functionality for those institutions that choose not to enable these features.
    • After the feature has been enabled, privacy settings give individual users control of their own profile data, and require opt-in before that data is discoverable by others.
    • We have designed our cloud services architecture to anticipate the possibility of distributing the data across multiple hosting centers in the future.
    1. All Blackboard Users: Anyone with a Blackboard profile can find and message this user. This includes Blackboard users at other schools.
    2. My Institution: This user’s profile is only available to other Blackboard users at their institution.
    3. Private: Following this user requires request and approval. Anyone in their courses, organizations and spaces can find and message them.
    4. Hidden: No other users can view, message or follow this user. They cannot view, message or follow others. They cannot participate in social learning spaces.

Can a user with a Blackboard account on more than one Blackboard instance have the same profile?

For example, a student taking classes at multiple schools or someone who teaches at one school and is a student at another.

Yes, users with Blackboard accounts on more than one Blackboard instance now have the ability to merge Profiles to support the use of a single Blackboard Profile with multiple Blackboard Learn user accounts.

This new capability means that an individual user can maintain a single profile in the Blackboard Social cloud and use that profile with multiple Blackboard Learn accounts. This will support a user who might be using Blackboard Learn at multiple institutions simultaneously (for example, a user who is getting a graduate degree at one institution while teaching undergraduate courses at another, or a user who is enrolled a four-year university but takes some core courses at a local community college during the summer). More importantly, it will also support a user “taking their profile with them” as they change schools and progress through their academic career. A user who graduates from university using Blackboard Learn and goes on to graduate school at a university using Blackboard Learn can maintain their same Blackboard Profile, maintain the relationships they’ve built, maintain their participation in Spaces, and so on.

Can users use any of the social tools without a profile?

No, users must agree to the terms of service and create a profile before they can use the social tools.

Can select courses and organizations be excluded from appearing on the People tool?

Yes, courses and organizations can be excluded from appearing in the People Tool and changing the context of a user’s privacy setting.

For example:

You have a student orientation course in which you enroll all users at the institution. This institution wide course would be added to each end-user’s People tool, making the end-user's profile accessible to all users at the institution. This exposes the user's private Profile to other contexts that the user himself did not actively decide to participate in. Selecting to exclude this institution wide course hides the course from the People tool as well as disables discovery and viewing of Profiles by other users enrolled in the excluded course.


Merging existing profiles

If you have two or more existing profiles already, you can merge them into one profile.

Choose a profile to be your target profile. We recommend choosing a profile that uses a personal email address as the primary email address.

Edit the Primary Email field of each of the remaining existing profiles to use the same email address as the target profile. This will initiate the merge process.

Any existing activity and relationships (posts, comments, Space memberships, followers/following relationships) are merged into the "target" profile. The Avatar, About Me, and Area of Study are only retained from the "target" profile.

For example:


  • If you have an existing profile with the email address me@myschool.com, and, when setting up a new profile, you enter me@myschool.com, the new profile (which is empty) is merged into the existing profile.
  • If you have two existing profiles, one with me1@myschool.com as the primary email and another with me2@myschool.com, and you change the email on the first to also be me2@myschool.com, the profile for "me2" is the target profile (because its primary email is not changing). The posts, comments, Space membership Follower/Following relationships from both will all be available in the merged profile, but the Avatar, About Me and Area of Study of the merged profile will be from the target profile.

Inline assignment grading questions

What is inline assignment grading?

Inline Assignment Grading enhances the grading experience for educators. Instead of requiring educators to download student-submitted files to view or edit those submissions, they can now see those files inline, i.e in the web browser itself. Annotation tools also enable you to provide feedback -- comments, highlights, and even drawing -- directly on the inline view of the document. The inline viewer is powered by a third-party, cloud-based technology called Crocodoc.

What is Crocodoc?

Crocodoc is a third-party cloud service that Blackboard has licensed for use with the Inline Assignment Grading feature. It is not a Blackboard-managed cloud service. However, the Inline Assignment Grading Building Block does contact a Blackboard-managed cloud service to retrieve a unique Crocodoc token per Blackboard Learn instance. This token is used to identify the Blackboard Learn instance with the Crocodoc service. Acquisition of this token happens automatically when the Inline Assignment Grading Building Block is available. For this acquisition to occur, the Cloud Connector needs to be enabled and configured to contact the Blackboard Cloud. In the event that the Inline Assignment Grading Building Block has difficulty obtaining the Crocodoc token from the Blackboard-managed cloud service, an error will appear in the Inline Assignment Grading Building Block’s settings page.

The Cloud Connector only needs to be enabled for the Building Block to request and retrieve the Crocodoc token. The Cloud Connector is not required for regular use of the Inline Assignment Grading feature once the token has been successfully retrieved.

With regards to Inline Assignment Grading, Blackboard has entered into a contractual agreement with Crocodoc to license their technology for use within Blackboard Learn. As is generally the case with most OEM-style agreements, Crocodoc is part of Blackboard Learn. The use of the Crocodoc technology in Blackboard Learn is governed by your contract with Blackboard, including the Blackboard Privacy Policy:

The governing agreement for the use of the inline grading tool within Blackboard Learn is the client institution’s contract with Blackboard. The protections given to clients in their Blackboard Learn contracts (including warranties and indemnities) extend to the use of the inline grading tool and the Blackboard Privacy Policy will apply to the data utilized within that tool. The client institution’s use of the tool is optional.

Does Inline Grading share personally identifiable information to Crocodoc?

The Blackboard Learn system does not share personally identifiable information about users with Crocodoc. Each assignment submission is assigned a document ID, and that is what is passed to Crocodoc. The mapping of the document ID to a user is handled within the Blackboard Learn database and is never exposed to Crocodoc. Similarly, entry of grade information is handled through Blackboard Learn; the grades on assignments never pass through Crocodoc servers nor are they made available to Crocodoc.

One caveat to that: if a student enters their name on a paper they submit to an assignment or an instructor enters a grade on the document itself as an annotation using the annotation tools, that name and grade would technically be stored in the Crocodoc environment. However, it is not present in their system as structured data that is identifiable as the submitting student's name or as a grade, so it would be extremely difficult to actually extract anything useful.

After a student submits an assignment, what happens?

Student file submissions are stored in your Learn instance, as always. A copy of the submission is transmitted to the Crocodoc cloud service for conversion. The converted version of the document lives in the cloud on servers managed by Crocodoc. The Crocodoc application and associated data (converted documents and annotations) live in the Amazon Web Services cloud, hosted in the United States.

The files in Crocodoc are stored only in the US.

No personally identifiable data about student is sent to Crocodoc. Learn retrieves a document ID from Crocodoc and assigns it to the document. That mapping of Document ID to user, course, assignment, and attempt is tracked locally in Learn. None of that data is available to Crocodoc. All that is transmitted to Crocodoc is the file for conversion. (Of course, the content of the file could contain personally identifiable information.) The converted file is stored in the Crocodoc service, as are any annotations made on the converted file.