The Electric Educator: First Look: Team Drives

Saturday, December 10, 2016

First Look: Team Drives

Google has been rumored to be working on a team aspect to Google Drive for years. This mythical feature was finally officially announced this past September but didn't actually emerge until last week when the Early Adopter Program (EAP) was launched for G Suite domains. Here's your first look at this substantial new feature to Google Drive. 

Why do we need Team Drive?
While sharing files with a individuals or small groups through Google Drive is simple and effective, managing a large collection of resources with a medium to large team can be challenging. 

Common Issues: 
  • Files get “lost” in shared with me. 
  • Files get removed from shared folders. 
  • Shared files are accidentally edited. 
  • Ownership issues
The biggest issue with traditional drive sharing is related to document ownership. If the owner of an important document leaves the company or school, their files will be removed if their account is deleted. 

Key features of team Drive

  • Located in a separate area from personal documents
  • Does not clutter up “shared with me”
  • Files owned by team (not an individual)
  • Simple access management
Note: At this time, Team Drive is only available Google domains that are in the EAP (Early Adopter Program). You can request early access here (you must be a Google Apps Admin). A full launch is expected in early 2017. 

Creating a Team Drive:

Team Drives appear in your personal Google Drive account. Visually, it gives the impression of two separate disk-drives (like your old c:// and a:// drives)

Creating a Team Drive is similar to creating a new folder, or a new class in Google Classroom. The material design styling of a Team Drive is quite different from the typical folder in Google Drive. 

Once you have created your Team Drive, you will see a brand new interface that stands in stark contrast to the simple folder-based structure of Google Drive. Educators will feel comfortable with this “Google Classroom-esque” design. At this time the colors and background image of your Team Drive can not be customized and are assigned randomly. 

Set Access Settings

Like traditional sharing in Drive, group managers can set the access settings for new team members. One important details is the addition of a new sharing access level to the Drive sharing settings you are familiar with: 
  • Full Access (allows team management)
  • Edit Access
  • Comment Access
  • View Access
Individuals with “Full Access” should be considered team managers as they can modify team membership settings. Set “edit access” to remove team membership capabilities. 

Team Drive supports sharing with individual users and Google Groups. Sharing with a group is an easy way to give manage group membership on a larger scale. 

Members can be removed at any time. Editing access rights can also be adjusted, just like in traditional Drive.

Add and manage content in your Team Drive just like you would in Google Drive. Notice that the “owner” column is no longer needed as the team is the owner of these resources. 

All standard Drive file types are supported by Team Drive. File and Folder upload are supported as well. Connected Drive Apps are NOT supported at this time.

Team Drive on Mobile 

One of the best features of Team Drive might be the simplicity of accessing it on your mobile device. No more searching through folders or the shared with me section of Drive. 

Quickly find, manage, and open documents from your team. 

Ideas, Thoughts, and Issues

Team Drive is in early release. Bugs and missing features are to be expected. 

The biggest issue at this time, you can not move content from your personal Google Drive into a Team Drive. You must create content IN your Team Drive. Ownership of Team Drive files resides with the team, not the individual who created them, so there are some challenges that Google needs to work through so that people don't accidently lose their personal work by adding them to a team Drive. 

Team Drive Use Cases

  • Curriculum Departments - One easy application for Team Drive is curriculum planning and documentation in schools. Each department (Math, Science, Language Arts, etc) should create a team drive to store curriculum maps, pacing guides, lesson plan templates, etc. 
  • Special Education departments can use a Team Drive to track IEP data, share common document templates and share common evaluation tools. 
  • School administrators can use Team Drives to collect budget information, share departmental reports, and safely store district-wide templates and resources. 
  • School Administrators and board members can use Team Drive to share board reports, minutes, and budgets.
  • Students working together in small groups can use Team Drive to share and store group work without impacting or cluttering up their personal drives. 
Speculation: The launch of team drive would suggest the ability for Google Classroom to add a group project feature at some point in the future.

That a quick first look at Team Drive - a much needed feature for facilitating more streamlined collaboration. Have a question about team drive? Leave a comment below. If you have access to Team Drive and have some thoughts of your own, please leave me a comment and feel free to link to your own review or video of Team Drive in action! 


  1. Thanks for sharing. Really looking forward to utilizing Team Drive!

  2. Thank you! Appreciate the concise explanation.

  3. Anyone heard about a Google Classroom integration of team Drives? Currently you cannot post items from Team Drives into classroom.... which is something a lot of teachers in my district were hoping they could do.


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