As I mentioned a few weeks ago in a micro post, my girlfriend Ni has been working towards a free digital marketing qualification on Google Garage.

She’s completely new to the field, and has very little prior knowledge about the workings of the web, tools like analytics or search consoles, and probably didn’t know how a search engine ranks results. You know, like a normal person.

She’s been working at it for about the last month, and she finally got to the final test. You need 80% to pass, but sadly she only got 62% and failed.

When I heard about that, I wondered what score I would get. Maybe my competitive nature kicked in, I’m not sure. I haven’t had a formal education in aspects of digital marketing, but I’ve picked up a few things from running and optimising my own websites. That, combined with understanding how a search engine works means I’m fairly well equipped, though I’ve never used any ad platforms.

The Google Garage program is a set of (currently 26) sections. Each section has a set of video lessons and quizzes, and a 3 to 6 question tests that you need to get 100% on in order to progress. At the end of the sections, there is a final exam (of 40 questions) that you need to get 80% correct in order to pass.

You can skip the quizzes and just do the tests, but if you make a mistake, you’re forced back to finishing the quizzes. Watching the video content is completely optional, so you can get through the course quite quickly if you already know most of the content.

I was able to speed my way through the tests (and quizzes when I made a mistake on the test) in just under three hours. I passed the final test with 85%.

I’m not sure I like the Google Garage course’s content. From what I saw, it’s incredibly biased towards ads, which is understandable given the source. Almost every question is either proposing that ads are the holy grail of solutions, or recommending a Google product to you. The whole course was just one big… ad.

As an example, there was a section about taking advantage of video for promotion. One question in that section’s test asked “How can you take advantage of video for your product/services without actually making a video?”.

I thought about it, and considered that a customer might have made a video about our product, and that we could share that (Before Frequency Central began making their own demos, they shared videos made by others).

So I picked the “Share other people’s videos” option. The ‘correct’ answer was “Advertise on other people’s videos”. Hmm.

There were other examples. Particularly one quiz where every option about which tools should be used for which situation; every single tool was a Google product. Double Hmm.

So I’m not sure what to think about this course. On the one hand, it’s an easy way for someone to prove that they have the knowledge that they claim they have, as I was easily able to get a certificate in three hours, but it seems to have failed as a learning tool, at least in Ni’s case (though I’m sure she got a much better score at the end of the course than she would have gotten at the beginning with no knowledge)

It doesn’t seem to detect cheating; I was able to flick between different browser tabs without it locking me out or doing anything. So I’m not even sure that you can trust that someone with the certification has the knowledge.

The first review that I looked at online about Google Garage has a broadly similar perspective to my own. I found myself agreeing as I read through the article.

As for Ni, I’m sure she’ll pass the course in due time. When she comes to use these technologies in the future, I hope that she will understand what they are, what they are for, and how to use them.

P.S. I'm late to the party, but I recently got a twitter account that you can follow here.