An iPad Workflow for the Classroom Using Google Drive & Pages, Keynote or Numbers

DriveThe Google Drive iPad app is not yet all that we might want it to be, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. A recent update included the ability to create and edit spreadsheets, but it also added something equally useful – the ability to upload files from other apps to Google Drive via the “Open in” function. This creates some useful workflow options for teachers who want to assign, receive and grade student work on the iPad.

Here’s how it could work.

1. Using the Drive app, the student creates a folder for assignments and shares it with the teacher (some kind of default naming strategy would be good here: see The Paperless iPad Classroom with the Google Drive app).

2. The teacher takes all the student folders that are shared with them, and puts them in one class folder (e.g. Math 1st hour) to help stay organized.

3. The student completes the assignment in Pages, Keynote or Numbers and goes to Share and Print > Open in Another App > PDF, and then choose the Google Drive app.

4. The Drive app opens and the student puts the completed assignment in the folder that they shared with the teacher in step 1.

5. When the assignment is due, the teacher uses the Drive app to find  their class folder, and then the student folder to find the assignment they want to grade. They open the assignment, and then open it in Notability.

6. In Notability the teacher makes annotations and grades the assignment, then sends it back to Google Drive, and puts it in the student’s folder complete with annotations, comments and so forth.

7. The student accesses the shared folder to see their grade.

Easy, right? 🙂 It’s really not as complex as it might sound. The teacher could even go one step further and have an Assignments folder in Google Drive that they share with their students. They could upload digital copies of the assignments to this folder, and make it read only (so students cannot add to or delete). Then they could just tell the students that the latest assignment was in the folder.

How could teacher quickly collect all the Google accounts of the students in their class? Make a Google form with “Name” and “Google Account email address”, and get students to fill it in on the first day of class. The results all go to a spreadsheet, so the teacher can copy and paste the email addresses into the folder permissions on Google, and/or create a contact group for that class. Better still, use the gClass Folders script on a desktop machine to create all the folders for you!

For more info on a Google Drive iPad Workflow, see The Paperless iPad Classroom with the Google Drive app which goes into the concept in more detail and offers more options.

84 thoughts on “An iPad Workflow for the Classroom Using Google Drive & Pages, Keynote or Numbers”

  1. I already do most of what you are suggesting using just google drive. I share documents back and forth with my students and they in turn share documents with me. They also keep track of their grades in a google spreadsheet. I works great.

    1. Google is a great tool for collaborating and using for an assignment workflow, but it has never been great on the iPad. The recent update to the Google Drive helped with that. I’m glad it works well for you.

      1. I’m pretty sure you’d still need parental consent to create an account for any child under 13. Google Apps agreements can’t circumvent federal regulations. You can however add a clause in your Responsible Use Policy that gives the school permission to create the account and have it signed by parents.

        The other limitation of Google Drive is that you’re limited to apps that have the Open In .. Google Drive feature. For example, images, screencasts, movies, eBooks etc cannot be moved to Google Drive. Another option to consider is a service that will accept submissions via email (such as Evernote or even Dropbox via SendToDropbox) as that’s available in just about every app.

        1. Hi Sam,

          Thanks for commenting. Many schools today have a free Google Apps for Education domain. This allows them to create private Google accounts that are not subject to the same terms and conditions as a public Gmail account, because Google does not collect personal information about the users. The school can choose which Google services it wants to give students access to. There is, therefore, no age restriction on students that have a Google Apps for Education account. You can find out more about this here:

          As for Google Drive, it is more flexible than you might think. Images can be uploaded to Drive via the iOS Drive app, or even through Safari. Screencasts can be uploaded to Drive if they are first saved to the Camera Roll. So, if you made a screencast in Doceri or ExplainEverything you could have that uploaded to Drive in the same way that you upload images. (Actually, Doceri and ExplainEverything support Drive, so you don’t even need to send it to the Camera Roll first). Movies are the same. If you have an iMovie project, save it to the Camera Roll, then upload it via the iOS Drive app. eBooks are more of an issue right now, but it depends on the app.

          Email is an option, like you said, but you will know that can get complicated as email is often a 13+ deal for students, (although this does not necessarily apply for Google Aopps for Education students). Some schools set up a generic school email account on the device so that they can get around that, and could set it up so that it only sends, not receives, to protect students further. Email works well, but the complaint I get from teachers is that their inboxes go from 10 to 40 in the blink of an eye as they suddenly have a whole class or more sending them assignments. It’s a this point I usually talk to them about email filters, or the newly free Showbie.

      2. Thanks for the information about opening from within the Google Drive app. Very helpful.

        There’s still significant debate about Google Apps compliance with FERPA and privacy regulations for children under 13. See this article in the WSJ published just yesterday…
        Granted it comes from a competitor of Google (Microsoft) but it’s enough to give me some reason to play it safe and get parental permission. We underestimate the extent to which our online activities leave us exposed … and sadly we live in an extremely litigious society.

        1. I take your concerns on board for sure. Different states are going to have different ideas about this, and parental permission is never a bad idea, but a Google Apps domain is different from a normal Google account in terms of privacy and control. I think a lot of states are recognizing this. Iowa, for instance, has an agreement with Google to provide its cloud suite of apps to its schools, so you have a lot of Google Apps schools here. I believe Oregon also has this agreement, as does Maryland, Colorado, Utah and probably more, (I don’t have the full list).

          As in the Google Apps for Education Agreement “Google will be considered a “School Official” (as that term is used in FERPA and its implementing regulations) and will comply with FERPA.” The school district, again according to the agreement, has to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that all Google Apps users (staff and students) are made aware of the district’s acceptable use guidelines.

          Today we need to be more careful than ever with students online, but the trend of moving to the cloud is a growing trend, (in education and in business) so as educators we need to make sure we act pro-actively and responsibly to take the best measures we can to protect our students.

  2. I find using Edmodo to be simpler for a couple of big reasons. First, the students themselves populate your class list; there’s no need to collect emails from them. Second, and this is big, there’s no need for folders or even Google Drive for that matter. I simply click on the name of the assignment and get a list of my kids and whether they’ve turned them in. I then click Turned In after each name and their Google Doc opens up for me to grade and comment on. Fast and simple!

    1. Edmodo is great for desktop users, but can still be a little clunky on the iPad. For instance, you cannot upload assignments to Edmodo from an iPad…unless they are images. I hope they work to improve on it further so that Edmodo can be a truly cross platform solution.

  3. Thank you for sharing on this topic. I work as a Technology Integration Specialist in a district that has done a 1:1 iPad rollout in all of the high schools and middle schools and workflow has been one of the biggest frustrations for the teachers and students. I also discovered this new feature with the Google Drive app and think it has the potential to be a terrific free workflow option. There is a strange glitch in the use of Edmodo and submitting through Google Drive account that I believe is happening on Edmodo’s end; however, if they get that fixed it will take the need for teachers to set up shared folders and will really streamline the workflow on iPads issue all without any further cost to school districts.

    1. Yes, I agree. Edmodo is a great solution, but they have not quite nailed it for the iPad yet. Have you looked at Schoology? It integrates with the iPad a little better, and is also free.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. In my previous district I actually used Schoology with the Kindergarten teachers to set up a collaborative learning space. I actually liked it better than Edmodo. My current district has adopted Edmodo as the general LMS for the entire district, but if Schoology works better with the iPad it might be worth checking it out. Do you use the Schoology app or do you go through Safari?

        1. The Schoology iPad app is much better than the Edmodo iPad app, in my opinion, (which is basically the same as using Edmodo in Safari). The teachers I know who use Schoology with iPads use the iOS app because students can create something in an app like Pages or Keynote, then send it to the Schoology app via Open in… and put it in an assignment dropbox that is created by the teacher. It is pretty slick.

        2. We have a BYOD programme at our international school, which in practice means a mixture of lap tops & iPads. Found Edmodo works fine as an LMS solution for an online library for teachers & students as well as quizzes (looked at Schoology – looks great too with more functionality, though with a cost). Looking forward to if/when Google drive on the iPad allows images in documents & creation/editing of presentations as this is the main limitation for these tablets at the moment.

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