Over the past decade, Google has devoted an increasing level of effort towards the educational market. Between its school-oriented Chromebook deployments and suite of educational services, Google has cemented itself as a true player in education, rivaling both Microsoft's and Apple's footholds in the sector. Two of Google's major releases into education include Google Classroom and G Suite for Education. These services sometimes get confused and it's important for both school IT administrators and app developers to understand their distinctions.

What is Google Classroom?

Classroom is Google's free-to-use learning management system (LMS). The platform allows teachers to manage and distribute digital classroom materials to their courses. Teachers can also create and assign quizzes and assignments to their students. Student outcomes are also recorded in an exportable gradebook.

Google Classroom has an API that allows third-party developers to create applications that integrate with the platform. The application uses OAuth 2.0 to authenticate users. After doing so, the application can use the API to retrieve user data or act on behalf of the user. For example, a teacher who uses their Google-linked Classroom account to sign into an application could create assignments that are sent back to their courses in Classroom. Students could then access the assignment within Google Classroom and grades can be sent back to the teachers gradebook.

What is G Suite for Education?

G Suite for Education is the Google's suite of services geared towards the educational market. School IT administrators manage the suite by provisioning accounts for users at their school and by managing user permissions. Admins may also place restrictions on how outside applications can access the data of teachers and students within their domain

Google also offers G Suite Enterprise for Education, which includes extra paid features not found in the basic G Suite platform. The Enterprise solution offers increased conferencing capabilities through Google Meet, enhanced support, and more advanced security options.

G Suite for Education admins can install the Google School Directory Sync (SDS) onto their servers in order to import data between their student information system (SIS) and G Suite. Running the SDS will provision new accounts for teachers and students in G Suite based on the enrollment data stored in the SIS. The SDS will also create courses and users in the school's Google Classroom domain. G Suite Admins can sync data from their SIS by importing a CSV file of the SIS data in the OneRoster® format.

If you're interested in learning more about Google integration for education, feel free to browse our collection of articles on the subject.

Our team at Edlink has a great deal of experience integrating with Google Classroom and helping school admins understand how to manage their data. Please contact us at accounts@ed.link or at our support page to understand how we can help your integration needs.

OneRoster® is a trademark of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (www.imsglobal.org)