Remote Teaching & Learning

Computing & Information Services

Using Google Drive for Classes

Google Drive provides many options for sharing with with students and collecting work from students. Questions? Contact us at

Sharing in Google Drive

When you have a file open in Google Drive, use the “share” button at the upper right to access sharing options.

  • To share with individuals or a Google Group, enter the name or email address in the text box. You’ll be able to choose from a list of your contacts as you type.
  • By default, anyone you share with is given editing access and can make changes to your file. Use the dropdown menu that appears next to the people/groups you've added to change access to commenting or viewing access only.
  • Open the settings (gear icon) to prevent editors from giving access to others and to prevent copying and downloading. Unless it is necessary for privacy, we advise against disabling downloading, as downloaded files are more accessible to students.
  • Sharing documents or folders with specific individuals is more secure than link sharing and offers more options for limiting sharing.
    • By default, link sharing is restricted (limited only to people/groups you have specifically added). If you need to make your file more widely available using link sharing, click "change link to Reed College" at the bottom of the window.
    • To protect your documents, link sharing is set to "viewer" by default. If you would like to allow people with the link to edit the document, use the drop-down menu to change the setting to "editor."
    • Students will need to use their Reed Google accounts to access or edit the document, rather than personal Google accounts.

Sharing material with students

Google Drive files are meant for collaborative work. If you are sharing files you do not want students to edit, make sure you change access from “edit” to “comment” (documents only) or “view” (documents and folders).

Creating a shared folder

If you plan to share multiple files with your students via Google Drive, you may want to set up a class folder. Open Drive and choose New > Folder. We suggest using your course name and the term for the folder name (example: Sociology 420 Spring 2020).

Once you have created the folder, open the folder and expand the menu next to the folder name for sharing options. If you’d like to prevent students from adding other users to the folder, access the sharing settings by clicking on the gear icon, and uncheck the box next to “editors can change permissions and share.”

Google Groups

CIS staff can create a Google Group for your class, which also serves as a mailing list for your class. You can share a folder or file with that group rather than entering all student emails individually. If you have already requested a course mailing list, you can simply enter that email address when sharing to share with the group. Email to request a Google Group for your class.

Linking shared files

If you’d like to post a link to your file in Moodle or share it via email, open sharing settings and click "Copy link" at the bottom. Be sure you’ve given the individuals or group you’d like to share the file with access first.

Sharing a copy link to a file

You can modify a file's sharing so that people with access to the link will be prompted to create a copy of the file, which they can then edit without affecting the original. Copy the link to your document as described above. The link will end with edit?usp=sharing. Remove this section of the link and replace it with copy. Note that students may have to share their copied file back with you for you to see their edits.

Collecting work from students

Unlike static files that you might collect via email attachment or the Assignment activity in Moodle, Google Docs and Google Sheets can be updated at any time. You can see the time of the last update at the top of the document. For more information when the file was updated and what edits were made, go to File>Version history>show version history. If you would like to save the version of an assignment at the time of submission, you can make your own copy by selecting File>Make a copy.

Individual folder

If you plan to collect many assignments using Google Drive, you may want to create an individual folder for each student. Share the folder with the student, and ask them to put their work for you there. Only you and the student will be able to view the files. You may want to remind them that the folder will appear under “shared with me” in their Google Drive, unless they reorganize it.

Shared files

Students can also turn in files by sharing them with you from their Google Drive. You may find it helpful to organize these files into a course folder you create, so that you can keep all submissions for the course in the same place. Do not share this folder with all students, or they will be able to see their peers’ work.

Collecting files via Google Forms

Google forms has a “file submission” question type that will allow you to accept a range of file types using a form for each assignment. For your security, if you choose to use forms to collect assignments, please limit the Google form to only Reed accounts, and remind your students that they will have to be logged in to their Reed account to submit a file.

  • From Drive, select New > Google Forms. Name your form something meaningful so you’ll be able to easily find submissions.
  • Under settings (gear in the upper right of the page), be sure the check box next to “Restrict to users in Reed College and trusted organizations” is checked. You may also want to collect email addresses.
  • From the dropdown menu for question type, choose File upload, and acknowledge the security warning.
  • You can choose to limit to only specific document types, such as images or spreadsheets, but not specific file formats, such as only .docx files.
  • When students submit files, they will be added to an automatically created folder, named based on the Form name.

You may share the link to your form via Reed email or on authenticated sites, such as your course Moodle page or a blog accessible only to members of the course. You can find the link by selecting Send in the upper right and clicking on the link icon. 

Commenting on work

You can add comments to student work by clicking on the comment icon in the Google Docs or Sheets toolbar. Keep in mind that, by default, Google documents allow collaborative editing. If you would like to make line edits, use the dropdown menu on the upper right, under the share button, to change your mode to suggesting. Your edits will appear in a different color, and anything you delete will appear in strikethrough. 

As you are commenting, keep in mind that student “owners” of documents may get email notifications of new comments. If this is a concern for you, you can make a copy of the student work to comment on and share with them when you’re done by selecting File>Make a copy.