As with any learning management system (LMS), integrating content is not an easy task. Google Classroom comes with its own unique set of challenges. Widespread standards that are supported by other LMS's are not supported by Google Classroom. Furthermore, developing the actual integration requires requisite knowledge of the G Suite and Google Classroom API. In this article, we'll cover some of the most challenging aspects of developing an integration with Google Classroom.
Google Classroom Does Not Support LTI
Arguably, the biggest different between Google Classroom and other LMS's is Classroom's lack of support for the Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®) standard, developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium®. The LTI standard is designed to give publishers a method to develop content that could be integrated into any LTI compliant LMS. While many major LMS's, such as Schoology, Canvas, and Moodle, have adopted the LTI standard, Google Classroom has not.
LTI works by allowing users to launch into an external application from their own LMS. The content contained in the application also appears within the confines of the LMS. Since Google Classroom does not support LTI, users will have to log in using a G Suite API single sign-on (SSO) integration. Users who log in using SSO with Google will typically start on the developer's external application and sign into their account there. Once signed in, the user can then use the integrated features of your application, such as assignment creation and grade passback, with their instance of Google Classroom.
Google Classroom Does Not Support Full Rostering
Many platforms and applications require that users are pre-provisioned accounts before they log in. Meanwhile, Google Classroom forces you to provision accounts on the fly when users log in. Additionally, course rosters cannot be automatically updated through the API. If a student logs in using Google's SSO but leaves the class, then the developer of the app must manually remove the student. Applications that require rostering from a provider, such as OneRoster®, will have an extremely challenging task of reconciling that data with the list of users from Google Classroom.
In addition to LTI and rostering challenges, developers who wish to create Google Classroom integrations may run into additional issues that must be considered.
For example, the Google API requires that you submit your application for verification if your app uses certain sensitive scopes. Many of the functions of the Classroom API require the use of a sensitive scope. Developers should plan on having to submit their application and make a case to Google for needing to use the sensitive scopes.
The Google Classroom API also is updated frequently. Furthermore, Google does not offer support for the development of Google Classroom integrations.
Onboarding is another problem that every educational application has to solve. On top of the rostering issues discussed earlier, the onboarding process will require educating school administrators, teachers, and students how to use the integrated features in your application. For schools that use G Suite for Education, the tech admins must also whitelist your app so their teachers and students can properly access your content.
How to Overcome the Challenges
It's worth noting that these challenges are more frequently faced by developers who are new to the G Suite and Google Classroom API's. Onboarding a school onto your platform with a new Google Classroom integration is often more challenging than one might expect. Aspects of integration, such as rostering and sensitive scope verification, can act as roadblocks to an otherwise successful product roll-out.
Edlink takes care of the LMS integrations for edtech vendors. Google Classroom is just one of the several LMS's that your clients may be using. Developing integrations for each of them (or even just Google Classroom) takes away valuable time and resources from your dev team. With Edlink, your developers can focus their time on improving your core product rather than having to figure out the intricacies of each LMS for themselves.
If you would like to learn more, please contact us. We would love to show you how we can help you integrate with Google Classroom or any other LMS your clients may use.
Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®) and OneRoster® are trademarks of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (www.imsglobal.org)