The Electric Educator: Using Google Drive without Google Apps

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Using Google Drive without Google Apps

I think Google Apps for Education is a great tool; especially Google Drive. There are a myriad of ways that Drive can be used to engage students.

While Drive is great, not every school is a Google Apps for Education school, which makes using Google Drive and other Google services a bit more challenging for a classroom teacher. I know; this was my situation for three years.

Here are four possible situations:
  1. Students have no email access
  2. Students have non-gmail access (provided by the school or via a personal account- Yahoo, AOL, Outlook, etc)
  3. Student have personal Gmail accounts
  4. Students have Google Apps for Education account provided by their school.
Google Drive CAN be used in each of these situations although your features and options will differ. Check out the infographic below for an overview of what will and will not be available:

Click to view the original
Ultimately, it is best if your school adopts Google Apps for Education so that you can take full advantage of the rich collaboration and creation tools that are provided. In the meantime, you can still use Google Drive with your students to some extent. 


  1. While I am a strong proponent of GAFE, I think that we need to be careful about encouraging schools to have their students use personal Gmail accounts for classroom collaboration. The Terms of Service for personal Gmail accounts are very different than for GAFE accounts and schools can easily run afoul of FERPA and COPPA (for students under 13). Student data privacy and security is an extremely important consideration and it is something that schools need to be cognizant of.

  2. Hi Paul! I completely agree. I simply provide this comparison to make people aware of the features that will be available via each situation. I also would not advocate that a classroom teacher ask/suggest that a student setup a personal Gmail account for school use.

  3. John, the feature comarison grid that you created is excellent and very helpful. Maybe you could consider adding the information/disclaimer about student data privacy and the differences in the Terms of Service between GAFE and personal Gmail accounts to make sure that teachers are aware? As a K12 Technology Director (and a parent) I worry quite a bit that teachers rush to implement the latest apps, services and tools without knowing or understanding the issues with student data privacy.


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