Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Improvements to the Blackboard Inline Grader are on the Horizon!

LMS, Educational Technology, EdTechRobyn Reese
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The Educational Technology team has not received a great deal of positive feedback about the new Blackboard Online Grader. One of the most important tools for teaching and learning online, the inline grader is used to provide specific feedback on student papers by using annotations, highlighting, and comments that are nested within the paper's content. 

Until the end of 2017, the inline grader was provided by Crocodoc, until the Box Corporation purchased Crocodoc and sunset the technology. Blackboard was then required to use a similar Box product for the inline grader. Users quickly found that the new product did not have comparable functionality at all, and many complained to Blackboard to report the need for old tools that were not contained within the new product. 

In February, Blackboard announced that Box will be more aggressively rolling out new features for the inline grader that will hopefully make it more useful and useable. The chart below provides a roadmap of the tools that are in development currently and those that have been targeted for addition in the future: 


What it appears users really want is the ability to select the point annotation icon and have it persist, allowing creation of multiple point annotations at once without having to reselect the point annotation icon in the nav bar each time. Currently Available

Allow Multiple Point Annotations to be "Sticky" / Created in Succession


Users want to free-hand draw on documents. Currently Available

Drawing Annotations


Display List of Current Annotations / Summary View

Users want to see that comments exist and the content of comments without having to mouse-over the annotation.  Additionally, the expanded point annotation covers other text/content in the document, and the point comment content disappears when not being moused-over making it impossible to see multiple point comments at the same time.  Being able to see the content of the annotation comment(s) in a list format without mouse-over would solve both concerns. Available in the first half of 2018


Change Highlight, Text, and Drawing Annotations Colors

Users want to have different options for highlighting color, text color, and drawing color when annotating.


Users want to edit their own comments after they have been posted and recognize which comments have been edited after initial posting.  An additional benefit would be for instructors to be able to edit annotations from users with less permissions (e.g. Teaching Assistants or Graders).

Editing Comments


Users want the ability to download a version of the original document with current annotations applied to the document.

Download Documents with Annotations


Users want to strikethrough text and associate a comment with the strikethrough.

Strikethrough Annotations


Users want to be able to add annotations to excel-based documents (.xls, .xlsx)

Annotate on Excel-based files


Area Annotations

Users want to select a free-form area and associate a comment with that area.


Users want to more easily see when a comment is associated with a highlight vs when text is only highlighted without a comment.

Indication of Comment in Highlighted Text (vs Highlighted Text without Comment)


Users want to be able to move and/or relocate comments.

Drag-to-move Annotations