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Inline Grading

Looking for the latest release notes? View release notes for inline grading.

The following tools support inline grading:

  • Assignments
  • Blogs and Journals
  • Wikis
  • Discussions

Inline grading for assignments

When an instructor views student-submitted files inline, they view the file in their web browser without any plug-ins, applets, or client-side applications. Instructors can use annotation tools in the inline viewer to provide feedback, such as comments, highlights, and even drawing/annotation, directly on the inline view of the document.

To get started with inline grading, you must first enable Cloud Connector and configure it to contact Blackboard Cloud.

More on Cloud Management

After you've enabled cloud services, you must make inline assignment grading available in existing courses.

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Tools and Utilities section, select Tools.
  2. In the list of tools, find Assignments and select On. Select Default On to allow instructors to turn it on or off in their courses.


The only requirements to use inline grading are a Blackboard Learn instance with the Course Delivery module and a modern browser.

There are no changes to the workflow for submitting assignments, with the exception for one minor UI change to the field where a user would enter an assignment response using the content editor as opposed to uploading a file. All of the changes are focused on the Grade Assignment page. Inline assignment grading can convert, display, and annotate Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF file formats. These account for the majority of submissions for Blackboard Learn assignments. If a file format can't be converted, the instructor still has the option to download it. The conversion retains most formatting for supported file types. There may be some very complex page layouts that don't render perfectly, but those are uncommon exceptions.

When students view their submitted attempts, they see the converted document in an inline viewer, as well as any annotations the instructor may have added. Students can't edit instructor annotations or add their own annotations.

You have the ability to download the annotated document as a PDF file.

Inline assignment grading and Crocodoc

Inline assignment grading is powered by Crocodoc ( Crocodoc is a third-party, cloud-based conversion, display, and annotation service.

Inline assignment grading contacts a Blackboard-managed Cloud service to retrieve a unique Crocodoc token for each Blackboard Learn instance. This token is used to identify the Blackboard Learn instance with the Crocodoc service. Acquisition of this token happens automatically when inline assignment grading 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 inline assignment grading has difficulty obtaining the Crocodoc token from the Blackboard-managed Cloud service, you'll see an error on the Assignment Settings page.

The Cloud Connector only needs to be enabled for inline assignment grading 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.


Student file submissions are stored in your Blackboard 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. Annotations are made to the converted document. They are stored as metadata associated with the converted document in the Crocodoc cloud service.

When documents are removed/deleted from Learn using the standard methods (submission delete, assignment delete, course delete, etc.), the reciprocal content stored in Crocodoc is also removed programmatically through the integration between the two services. When deleting content from Learn, users do not need to take additional actions to remove content from Crocodoc.

Crocodoc annotations for attempts are not carried over when a course is copied or restored from an archive.


The Crocodoc service can convert files in any character set, including double-byte character sets. Likewise, comment annotations can be entered in any character set, including double-byte character sets. However, the inline viewer's interface itself is not localized, so the labels on the inline viewer toolbar and any other textual interface elements of the inline viewer will always be displayed in English. Blackboard is working with Crocodoc to get more clarity around their timeline for supporting localized interfaces.

Text files, HTML files, and content created via the content editor can't be annotated because they already display inline natively in the browser. These files aren't sent to Crocodoc for conversion and therefore can't be annotated.

When a converted document is loaded, a session is initiated in Crocodoc. Annotations made during a session are saved automatically. However, the Crocdoc session expires after an hour. If an instructor takes longer than an hour to annotate a document, annotations made after that session expiration may not be saved. As a workaround, navigate away from the Grade Assignment page to another page in Blackboard Learn, then navigate back to the Grade Assignment page to re-establish a new session. Blackboard is working with Crocodoc to determine how we might extend this session to be more in sync with the Blackboard Learn session itself.


The Crocodoc application and associated data (converted documents and annotations) live in the Amazon Web Services cloud, hosted in the United States. The files are secure in the Crocodoc service and stored only in the US. Blackboard, Crocodoc, and Amazon Web Services go to great lengths to secure access to the content stored in the Cloud.

No personally identifiable data about students is sent to Crocodoc. Blackboard 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 Blackboard Learn. None of that data is available to Crocodoc. All that is transmitted to Crocodoc is the file for conversion. However, 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.


  • Students can't annotate documents.
  • Inline grading does not work with SafeAssign, Self & Peer, forums, or Content Collections.
  • Inline grading does not work in Mobile Learn.
  • The Crocodoc inline viewer interface is only displayed in English at this time.
  • Annotation sessions expire after an hour. If an instructor takes longer than an hour to annotate a document, annotations made after that session expiration may not be saved.
  • To ensure that point- or text annotations are saved, users must click outside of the annotation text entry area (but within the Crocodoc iframe) before leaving the Inline Grading page.