Google has taken several steps to protect users from malicious applications. One of the ways Google does this is to allow Google Workspace administrators to restrict which applications users can access with Google accounts. Administrators of educational institutions that use Google Workspace for Education (the free and premium service) have this ability.

Due to the sensitivity of student data, many school administrators want to lock down how third-party applications access Google accounts from their domain. One popular way to do this is to “whitelist” applications that students and teachers can access.

What does it mean to "whitelist" an application?

In this context: Whitelisting is the process where school administrators allow some applications to be accessed by users (think teachers and students). This is in contrast to blacklisting, where administrators prevent certain applications to be accessed by users.

A whitelisting policy prevents users from unwittingly handing over their data to applications that shouldn't have it. This helps to ensure that only trusted sources (defined by this policy and listed by a school’s admin) can access data from users.

Google allows Google Workspace administrators the configure this policy from the Google Admin console.

What issues can apps face if they’re not whitelisted by an educational institution?

Google prevents untrusted applications from accessing data from a Google Workspace environment – a key issue if the app requires this data to work. Access to this data lets apps easily onboard users from Google Workspace domains and provide integrations with services to Google Classroom and Drive. Depending on the Google Workspace policy, Google may require administrators to consent on behalf of teachers and students.

While this is obviously beneficial to protect student data, it may cause some headaches when users try to access legitimate applications. For example, A teacher buys access to an online textbook portal with a Sign in with Google Classroom button. But the class can’t access the portal until the app is whitelisted by the school's Google Workspace admin.

In another scenario, users may see unclear errors when trying to access non-whitelisted apps with their Google accounts. If a school's Google Workspace for Education whitelist policy is to require external applications to be whitelisted, then the Google Workspace admin must be proactive in evaluating and adding applications to the list.

Google Workspace for Education Admins: How to Whitelist an Application

Before starting, the school admin will need to check they have the correct account, a Google Workspace administrator account. To do this, visit the Google Admin console. If the user has an admin account, it will appear like this (image below).

If the user is not a Google Workspace admin, an error message will appear instead (image below).

Once the user confirms they are an administrator, visit the App Access Control page on the Google Admin console. Select Add app. For external apps like Edlink, choose OAuth App Name or Client ID from the Add app drop-down.

On the pop-up that appears, admins can search for the external application by the app's name or by a client ID (provided by the app developer). The developer should’ve already made a Google-connected application that provides a client ID. Once the user has found the application, click Add in the bottom right of the pop-up. This will complete the whitelisting process.

Below is an example of how an admin would add Edlink to their whitelist.

Read More on Google Classroom

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 LMS integrations (like these), then let’s introduce ourselves. We’re Edlink!