A Point of Clarity

As many developers know, Google hosts a range of different products and tools. Google Classroom is one of those products and is known as a popular LMS provider. Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) can be described as a package of tools (Docs, Slides, etc). Often, people misrepresent a “Google integration” as a connection to either Google Workspace or Google Classroom. An integration to Google Classroom will provide the ability to use integrated functionality (SSO, rostering, grade passback, assignment sync, etc.); an integration to Google Workspace will provide connections to some or all of the Workspace “tools” (read: Google Docs, Google Slides, etc).

When a user creates a Google account, Google grants the user access to many Google Workspace products. Google offers a tailored package for educators of educational institutions, called Google Workspace for Education. Google's Cloud Platform allows developers to implement API requests on behalf of a user's Google account and provide APIs for many of the applications in Google Workspace, including Google Classroom.

The Google Classroom API

While the Google Classroom API can make requests on behalf of a user's Classroom account, developers will have to use other Google Workspace APIs to enable features that are necessary for complete integration. For example, onboarding an entire learning institution that uses Google Workspace for Education might require edtech developers to implement the Admin SDK so they can retrieve an entire list of all users at a learning institution. This cannot be done alone with the Google Classroom API. Understanding how the Google Workspace APIs work together is vital to understanding how to integrate applications with Google Classroom.

Rostering Through Google Classroom

Rostering accounts through Google Classroom can also be tricky to tackle. As mentioned earlier, developers have to implement other Google Workspace APIs to onboard an entire learning institution. By itself, The Google Classroom API can only obtain roster information for individual courses. The good news is that many educators will use Google Classroom for their courses and don't require admin-level authorization to use the platform.

Google Classroom is also unique among other LMS providers because it requires users to have a valid email address. Since many third-party applications (read: vendors) identify users through email addresses, developers will not need to build workarounds to implement the Google Classroom API to roster users in the app.

No LTI Support

Unlike other major LMS providers, Google Classroom does not support the LTI specification. Instead, edtech developers will have to use the proprietary Google Classroom API to integrate. Learning institutions that use Google Classroom might not be aware of this when they ask for “only LTI integrations” in their RFP.

When this happens, we suggest that product teams dive into a learning institution’s need for LTI specification integrations. We usually discover that learning institutions just want a certain level of functionality (like SSO or Rostering) or expect some level of security. These needs can still be met through API integrations which can be built with security measures and functionality in place.

Update | 5.29.24

Read More on Google Classroom Integrations

Here are other articles we’ve written on Google Classroom to help you on your integration journey:

If you're looking for a partner who can help guide you through developing Moodle integrations (and others like these), then let’s introduce ourselves. We’re Edlink!