Information about the Google IT Support Professional Certificate tells learners “This is your path to a career in IT. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.”
Can a tech dinosaur learn the knowledge to become a Google IT support person after taking a Coursera Specialization? Over the next several months, we will find out.
I enrolled in this Specialization and so far I have finished the first course, Technical Support Fundamentals.
As a female on the wrong side of 60, I am definitely not a stereotypical computer geek. Although I have worked with computers for many years, it has mostly been specific work after training in those particular tasks. More recently, though, I have done a little Python programming and some short online courses on various aspects of computers.
I quickly noticed conflicting messages about the time commitment for the Specialization. The information page says 10 hours per week for 6 months.
In the first video of the first course, we hear: “If you dedicate around eight to 10 hours a week to the courses, we anticipate that you’ll complete the certificate in about eight months.”
Then a bit later in the first week, there is a “Set yourself up for success” form where you can choose your commitment from 3 choices:
- around 7 hours per week (about 1 hour per day) for up to 3 months.
- around 3 1/2 to 7 hours per week (about 1/2 to 1 hour per day) for 3 to 6 months.
- around 3 1/2 hours per week (about 1/2 hour per day) for 6 months or longer.
Quite a range! Between 7 hours per week for 3 months (about 90 hours) and up to 10 hours a week for 8 months (about 380 hours).
Maybe, though, the range allows for different levels of prior knowledge. It’s likely that an absolute beginner would take much longer going through the course than someone who has been tinkering with computers and surfing the net in their spare time for a few years. An absolute beginner might need to re-watch videos and explore the readings carefully to fully grasp the material.
I was keen to see how much time I would need.
Course 1: Technical Support Fundamentals
The course is definitely what it claims to be: an introduction to computers from the very basics, aimed at learners who want to break into the IT support field. I was impressed that the course started out assuming learners know virtually nothing about how computers work. In this respect, I discovered I know more about computers than I thought. I went through most of the videos at 1.5 speed and easily passed the quizzes. This six-week course took me about two to three hours per “week” and I crammed the whole course into eight days. This might not be the best way to learn, and although I understood the material, I’m unlikely to recall it all a few months down the track. Nevertheless, a few aspects stood out.
I was skeptical of the claim we’ll “build a computer in course one,” but, true to their word, the Google presenter (
) first displayed and identified the parts inside a computer, then demonstrated building a computer from the motherboard up. Safety issues were addressed, alongside how to select and handle the various components. Although I did not attempt to build a computer, the week’s assessment included an interactive exercise. Learners had to identify the components and place them in the correct positions with the mouse. I had some trouble making the components fall into place with the mouse, but later selected Keyboard Usage and found it much easier to navigate the plugin with a combination of keyboard selections and mouse clicks.
Some Earlier Issues Now Resolved
Some older reviews on Class Central complained about issues using Quiklabs in Weeks 3 and 5. Happily, these bugs appear to have been ironed out, as I had no problems taking the assessments. I found, though, that after completing the exercises, I had to refresh my Coursera page for the result to appear.
If you are a mobile user, some assessments require a computer and cannot be completed on a mobile device. You will need to consider how to access a computer for these. If you are auditing the course, this is not an issue.
The peer assessment mentioned in older reviews is no longer included.
In Week 2, several errors in speech were “fixed” by saying “Oops! We meant to say …” as an errata where the video is stopped. This is more usually for an in-video question. Be aware that if you download the videos with the mobile app to watch offline, you may miss these errata messages. On the other hand, the transcript progresses on the app as the video plays.
Several steps asked for comments in the discussion forum. I found the forums active, with several new comments within the last day or so. Enrollment numbers are constantly growing in this popular Specialization.
Specialist Google employees presented the various topics in course one. Hardware, operating systems, software, networking, and troubleshooting, including empathy were all covered.
Would you expect to need empathy when working as an IT support person? The use of empathy is explained thoroughly in Week 6 because often IT support is called when users are frustrated and irritated. Putting yourself in their shoes helps you understand their feelings and often helps them calm down. They can then explain what’s happening more clearly as you help solve the issue.
Overall, the course appears to fulfill its stated goal – to begin preparing learners for a job in the IT support field. There are even several videos discussing job applications and interview techniques.
I look forward to continuing the Specialization to increase my knowledge and find out how ready I might be for a job in IT Support.