You are now in the main content area

Facilitate a class collaborative activity using GSuite

Sample activities that can be facilitated using GSuite:

  • Have the students create documents individually or in groups that the class can access and review.
  • Have the students submit project work (video presentations, documents, images, etc.) to host a class gallery of work. A Google Doc can be created to provide feedback and comments to each of the students.
  • Facilitate class-wide activities by having the entire class contribute ideas to a document.

With a bit of setup, you will have:

  1. A class Google Group, where all of the enrolled students are automatically members
  2. A class shared Google Drive folder, where you can share resources with the class
  3. A class collaborative activity subfolder, where the students can all contribute and view the contributions of their classmates

Google Drive can be found in, under "Apps".

IMPORTANT: The students will have full access to the collaborative activity subfolder, which means they will be able to see each others' contributions as well as modify and delete them. Please consider this carefully when deciding to implement this approach.

A. Request a course Google group (mailing list)

First, you will want to go to, and request a Course Google Group. Note that you will only be able to request a Google Group for a course that currently appears in your course list in RAMSS.

This will automatically load all of the students as members of your group! Not only will it allow you to email the students easily, but you can use the group email address to share resources with them and deliver collaborative activities.

Course-based Google Groups are active for the terms the course is running, e.g. for a two term course, if the instructor chose the two term option at the time of requesting the list, the list will be active for two terms.

B. Create a class shared folder in Google Drive

Next, create a class shared folder in Google Drive that you can use to share materials with your students, as well as collaborative Google Drive activities.

Our recommendation is to only give the students "Can view only" access to the entire folder, so you can control their access. In the next step, you will create the folder for the collaborative project.


C. Create a "collaborative activity" subfolder

Within your class shared folder (created above), you will create a subfolder specifically for the collaborative activity.

By default, the students will only have "view" access to the contents of this subfolder, so you will need to upgrade their access.


  • Make sure you are inside your course shared folder in Google Drive.
  • Click New > Folder and create a new subfolder for your activity. Give it a clear and concise name that everyone will understand.
  • Right-click on the new folder and click "Share".


  • Since the class Google Group already has read access to this subfolder (inherited from the class folder), you will need to click on "Advanced" to upgrade their access.


  • Locate the class Google Group in the list of "Who has access" and click their dropdown menu (it will likely appear as an eyeball icon). 
  • Select "Can organize, add and edit"
  • Check the box to "Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people". This ensures the students cannot add other users to the folder.
  • Click the "Save changes" button at the bottom of the page.
  • On the subsequent page, click the "Done" button at the bottom of the page.

D. Run the "collaborative activity"

*Finally*, we get to the step for the collaborative activity. 

Since the entire class has edit access to the contents of this folder, you won't have to worry about setting the permissions -- just be aware of them (see the note below).

How do I get the students to contribute?

  • Outline some instructions to provide guidance on the activity. What are the students expected to do? What should they avoid?
  • Provide the students with the link to the folder, or a specific document to collaborate on. This link can be posted to the content area of the course D2L Brightspace shell.

IMPORTANT: The students will have full access to the collaborative activity subfolder, which means they will be able to see each others' contributions as well as modify and delete them. Please consider this carefully when deciding to implement this approach.

 Tips for sharing Google resources with your students 

We've heard from many instructors who would like to share content, but prevent it from being downloaded by the students. 

This isn't something that can be set on an entire folder - you need to enable it on each item.

This will not prevent students from recording their screens, taking photos/screenshots or copying and pasting sections of text.

This setting does not disable downloading for those with edit access to the item.

Find the "share" settings in Google Drive
  • Create or upload an item into your shared Google drive folder.
  • Right-click the item, then select "Share".
Google doc sharing settings icon
  • In the "Share with people and groups" pop-up, look to the top-right and click the settings icon.
  • Some new options will appear - un-check the box "Viewers and commenters can see the option to download, print and copy".
  • Click the arrow to go back to the sharing settings.
  • Click "Done".

Are your students emailing you to request access to a Google document that you know you have already shared with the class?

It may be that the student has another Google account that is conflicting with their Ryerson account, and is preventing them from accessing your shared resources.

Here is a workflow that should prevent this problem.

These instructions can also be found on the student guide to accessing content in D2L Brightspace - please feel free to share it with them.

Google drive warning "you need access"
Google settings "Add another account"

These steps will help to ensure you can access content that is shared with you from Google Drive.

  1. Go to, external link and click on the user icon in the top-right corner. Not only will this page tell you which account you are currently logged into, you will be able to logout or add your Ryerson account to this list.
  2. Once you get to this screen, you can either "sign out of all accounts" (the quick method) or click "add another account" and then proceed to login using your Ryerson email address and password. (In the example here, you will see that I have both my Ryerson account and my personal account listed)
  3. Go to and log out completely. You're going to start the login process from scratch.
  4. After logging out, log back in at Complete the remaining steps within 30 minutes.
  5. Click on Apps and open Google Drive, just to ensure you have a new session in your Ryerson Google account.
  6. Proceed to the page or application from which you are trying to access shared Google content (D2L Brightspace, email, or another application used in your course).

The "quick method" (logging out of Google) is useful for a one-time access of materials, but adding your Ryerson account will ensure your access isn't impeded long-term. If your course relies heavily on materials shared from Google Drive, adding your Ryerson account may be the better option.

Another tip: use a different web browser for your Ryerson work than for your personal communications. We recommend using Chrome if you use Google tools at Ryerson frequently, so consider using something like Mozilla Firefox or Safari for your personal accounts.

Additional resources for GSuite at Ryerson: