How To Integrate iPads With Google Classroom

With the recent announcement that Google Classroom will be available to all Google Apps for Education schools by the week of August 11th, schools that have also adopted iPads are interested in exploring the platform to determine if it will integrate into their existing deployment to provide a helpful and approachable workflow solution.

While there are currently a number of workflow solutions and Learning Management Systems that work well with iPads, Google Classroom will likely become a top contender for iPad classrooms because of the integration with both the Google Drive and Google Docs iPad apps as well as any number of iPad creativity apps. While there is not an iPad app for Google Classroom, the web interface works seamlessly and allows students to turn in any assignment or file that is in their Google Drive account as illustrated by the video below.


Why Use iPads With Google Classroom:

  • Students access Google Classroom through the web on iPad. This means that no additional apps need to be installed or updated.
  • Any assignment created and distributed by the teacher that is a Google Document or Spreadsheet will automatically bump students to the Google Docs or Spreadsheet app for completion when they click on their individual file within the Google Classroom web interface.
  • Any PDF that is distributed to students as an assignment through Google Classroom will automatically open in the Google Drive app when clicked on within Google Classroom. Students can then use the “open in” function to send the PDF to any app – such as Explain Everything or Notability – needed to complete the assignment.
  • Any app that supports uploading to Google Drive as an export option can then be turned in as a completed assignment. A few of these apps include, but are not limited to:
    • Explain Everything
    • iMovie (send to camera roll first & then upload to Google Drive)
    • Book Creator
    • Creative Book Builder
    • Notability
  • Multiple file types can be selected and uploaded as assignments. This means that teachers can create templates and curate resources to guide student creation.
    • ePub (Book Creator & Creative Book Builder)
    • PDF (Notability & Book Creator)
    • XPL (Explain Everything Project)
    • MOV (iMovie)
    • MP4 (Explain Everything video export)
    • Google Document

Google Classroom significantly reduces the workflow barriers to student creation with iPads. Moving forward, teachers will be able to push resources to students, and collect creations from them, in an efficient and organized manner.

google classroom

To learn more about iPads and Google Apps, EdTechTeacher will be offering a Google Apps & iPads Pre-Conference workshop at their November 12-14 iPad Summit in Boston where Greg Kulowiec will be the keynote speaker.


  1. Steve Gambuti

    August 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    This was very helpful. As an educator I was wondering if ipads would work better than Chromebooks. I know my district is going with Chronebooks, but I have an iPad that I would love to use as my own preference.

    Can I push my resources from my iPad to their Chromebooks?

    • Greg Kulowiec

      August 12, 2014 at 4:13 pm


      It is all based off of Drive and the Classroom website, so yes you can run it from your iPad.

  2. Charlene Chausis

    August 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Hi Greg
    Thanks for a great tutorial. Since Classroom allows teachers to share a document as “Students Can View the File” you can skip the step of creating the PDF (especially if you are assigning work from the iPad)?

    • Greg Kulowiec

      August 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm


      True about generating a PDF being an extra step.

  3. Josh

    August 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I used IPads for my senior year in high school, and they worked amazing!!!

  4. Ann

    August 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

    This is not working for me at all. I have a pdf in my Google Drive that I am assigning to students in a test environment. I am choosing Make a copy for each student and clicking Assign.

    The student goes to Classroom on their iPad, enters the class and taps on the assignment. It opens in the web browser, not in the Google Drive app and thus cannot be edited. The student is logged into the Drive app on the iPad. Tapping and holding on the assignment in Classroom only gives the option to open it in a new tab or copy the url. Not sure what is up with that but nothing here that is not a Google doc or Spreadsheet is opening in the Drive app when tapped.

    • kristi

      August 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      You are having this issue because it is a pdf. Students can view a pdf but not edit it.

  5. Dale Ehrhart

    August 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Classroom looks like it could really facilitate multi platform BYOD classroom workflows

  6. Ann

    August 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Not working in a different way now. I took another iPad and accessed an assignment that is a pdf and was able to get it to open in Google Drive; however when you choose Open In… the only available options are cloud based: GDrive, Schoology and Dropbox. There is no way to tell it to open in Notability or any of the other compatible apps that are on the actual device.

    We are scrambling to prepare training for faculty next week and these issues are extremely troubling.

    In addition, Google has added an About tab on the class page in which teachers can post handouts and other materials that are not assignments or announcements. The handouts appear in straight list which when highly populated, will be a pain to scroll through. There is a link to the classroom folder there as well so I’d point students to that. Teachers will have to remember that they cannot add to that folder through Drive, they have to insert them in the classroom page or they will not show up in the class folder for students.

    • Greg Kulowiec

      August 17, 2014 at 8:59 pm


      I don’t know why you would have a PDF annotation tool available as an open in option when viewing a PDF in Drive. I tested multiple times when making this video and could always select notability. I wish I could be more of a help.

    • Patsy

      August 20, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      The “Open In” is dependent on what apps are available on the iPad that can read, open, and then edit the PDF files. There are MANY apps, some free, some not, for the iPad that will read PDF files and edit them either with drawing tools or typing tools.

    • Dan

      October 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      We’ve found that it all depends on how you assign the pdf. If you assign as “Make a copy for each student” then it won’t show Notability as an option. The reason this happens is because of what Classroom does to the file when you give it to each student – it appends the student’s name to the document. So, when a student opens the pdf, the file name looks like this “Sample Doc.pdf – Johnny Smith”, which to your device doesn’t look like a pdf. It needs to end with the .pdf extension for the iPad to realize that it should allow it to open in Notability, or other similar apps. However, if you assign it as “Students can view” then it will open in Google drive and then allow you to open it in Notability because it doesn’t personalize the file for each student, it will end in the .pdf format.
      I know it’s too late for your faculty PD, but I hope this helps for the future!

      • Amy

        November 18, 2014 at 11:38 am


        I have been having the same problem as Ann and I tried adding a pdf assignment that ended in .pdf and was shared with the students using “Student can view” and I still cannot get the option for it to open in Notability. It just opens the document in a new tab and there are any “Open in” options given. Any ideas on how to fix this?

        • Amy

          November 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

          I just solve the problem!!! If anybody who is reading this thread has the same problem with not being able to open a pdf in Notability directly from Google Classroom, here is something to check for:

          1. Open the iOS Chrome app.
          2. Click on the menu button in the upper right-hand corner (3 parallel lines)
          3. Click on “Settings”
          4. Click on “Google Apps”
          5. Make sure the Google Drive is switched to “on”

          Now when you click on an attached pdf in Classroom, it will try to open it in the Google Drive app rather than create a new tab in Chrome. When it opens in Drive, click on the circled “i” symbol in the upper right-hand corner, select “open in”, and you should see the apps that can open it (including Notability if it is on your iPad)

          Dan is correct in that you cannot send a copy to each students because it will not work. I am not sure why this is. Dan said it was because the file needs to end in .pdf but I added a pdf file that had been renamed and didn’t have the .pdf extension on it, and I was still able to open it in Notability directly from Classroom. Because students create a copy of the pdf when they open it in Notability anyway, creating separate copies is not a necessity.

  7. Matthew Gudenius

    August 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I’m not sure I can trust this article.

    I read and hear that “iPads work with Google Drive/Docs” in theory, but in reality there seems to be a lot of problems. My students with iPads at home told me they had trouble accessing or working on their Google Docs on the iPad (we don’t use them in the classroom — we use Windows 8 tablets in the classroom — allowing all of the functionality of an iPad, Chromebook, and Macbook combined, for less than the cost of an iPad)

    I will be curious to see how this pans out in REALITY (not just from reports of Apple fanatics that refuse to be honest about iPad limitations — in fact, some of the biggest iPad fans at my school have started to fess up that they are having problems with typing/keyboarding, Google Docs, and other issues)

    • kristi

      August 19, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      I am a teacher and have used Google docs in conjuction with my iPad for over a year now. I have had zero issues with creating docs or spreadsheets on my device. I have used a blue tooth keyboard and the on screen keyboard.both worked great.
      I use ipad, Dell venue, desktop windows based computer, mac book and an android phone. Google drive has always worked great on all.

  8. Greg Kulowiec

    August 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Thoughtful concerns posted by all. The article and video were created in an effort to provide an overview of what is possible when using classroom with iPads. As was mentioned in Ann’s comment, there is already an update to classroom that did not appear in the video I created just a few weeks ago. Problems will clearly persist as will updates along the way. Does classroom have potential to simplify workflow with iPads, yes. This does not mean that problems will not pop up. It may be more realistic at this point to use google drive manually to have students share folders & work without using classroom. I too am intersted to see how classroom plays out in a day to day classroom setting and it may turn out that this singular tool isn’t ideal for every classroom.

  9. Sam Sinclair

    August 18, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Thanks Greg. As a grammar school teacher in Northern Ireland I have been a fan of Google Drive and the many (free) plugins for quite a while. So I am delighted to see Google Classroom bridge the gap between Google Apps and other solutions like Edmodo. We are not a 1:1 iPad school so I will be able to use other devices to access G Classroom and may be able to avoid the inevitable iOS teething problems which Ann and Matthew have expressed frustration at. Having spent 3 weeks of my own time trying to get my Apple TV + wifi router combo to “see” my iPad I feel their pain!
    I’m back to school this week so I will be keen to give G Classroom a go this term and bombard Google with my tech problems as I go! Let’s hope they make a good fist of this and not allow any Google Vs Apple vs Microsoft corporate enmity to get in the way of student progress.

  10. loyd

    August 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t think that apple would like to have a app like that because apple is in over there head now. All the years that apple was up and running they was relying on steve jobs to run it because the CEO didn’t know how to run the company so there for the company going to go under unless the find some one els to replace him

    • Patsy

      August 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      I totally disagree. Apple and the iPad are the most dependable, non-crashing tools available today. There IS an app to do anything you want to do. The Apple TV is a plug and play device but dependent on your network having ports (Bonjour) open so that AirPlay can work. If you are not seeing Apple TV (or a computer connected to a projector) in the Control Center, it is very probable that Port 5353 is not open so AirPlay is not able to send the signal to the AppleTV or computer. This is very typical of IT personnel to block this port.

  11. Bob

    August 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    We have used eBackpack for a year with our 1:1 iPad initiative, so we were really interested by the possibilities with Google classroom. For us, eBackpack is WAY better! Eeverything is seamless, no opening docs in a separate app like Notability to notate, it’s done right in eBackpack, or iMove for video since you can record video directly in eBackpack. The assignment, work, hand-in, return with comments process is seamless and intuitive. We’re really excited because they now have the ability to send grades from assignments straight into our district grade book system.

    • Greg Kulowiec

      August 27, 2014 at 7:09 am


      I agree that eBackPack is an outstanding workflow solution. One of the reasons I wanted to create and share this post is because a number of schools still don’t have a tool like eBackPack in place and Google Classroom could fill that hole. While it is far from perfect, it can simply much of the technical workflow that gets in the way in many classrooms that have iPads.


  12. Emily

    November 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm


    Thank you for a very helpful video and blog entry. In my opinion, you took the time to post this information to help others. We have the responsibility to test it for ourselves and not blame you if things don’t work. I appreciate your efforts and the efforts of many of those who responded with helpful tips and updates.