G Suite is designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible. But once you get out of the applications themselves and into the administrative functions, it’s far from self-explanatory. And even the core apps have functionality most users don’t know is there.
We’re going to break down all the best training options that empower you to be a better G Suite admin and user.
What makes a good G Suite training course
Different G Suite courses might suit different people and organizations. But we’ll be looking at how comprehensive they are, how accessible the content is, the pricing, and how easy it is to use and understand. There’s also the question of how deeply the makers of the course understand their subject.
In addition to the course quality, there are questions to ask about your own needs. If you’re a new G Suite user as well as a new admin, and you’re working with a small team, that’s a very different proposition to stepping into role as admin for a large team in a big organization when you’ve all been using Docs and Sheets for a decade. And in startups where everyone wears a dozen hats, you might have all the jobs you had yesterday, plus now you’re G Suite admin for the whole organization. If that’s the case, certification might matter less to you than quickly getting to grips with the core concepts.
We’ve arranged these courses starting with the one requiring least investment: the free self-serve training Google provides, unstructured but complete. Courses suitable for bigger organizations with more specific needs are lower down the list.
1: Google’s self-serve training
- Content: Complete. It’s the source Google usees for its own G Suite courses
- Pricing: Free
- Expected knowledge: None
- Certificate: No
- Languages: English
Google provides comprehensive unstructured G Suite training. It’s free, in the sense that its cost is bundled with the price of G Suite subscription. From Google’s point of view, this makes solid business sense — value the user can’t access may as well not be there, so their free training is all about customer success and its associated business benefits.
There are two options shown right off the bat.
The G Suite Quick Start Guide looks like this:
This is for people coming cold to the G Suite set of tools; it’s really about getting up to speed with the basic applications. ‘Learn the Basics’ leads to the same page.
Skills in the basic Google apps, like layering calendars and sending large attachments, are offered right on the training homepage, next to app-specific skills.
Follow the link to the Tips Library and you get a knowledge base, organized by a mix of utility and urgency so the first item is ‘undo sending your mail.’
This is the way most of Google’s own training material is supplied: you can cherry-pick as well as self-serve.
In the top menu on the Tips Library page, there are options to take various paths through Google’s training materials.
For instance, you can choose to learn based on the specific task you’re trying to get done.
Once you pick a task, you’ll find a simple guide like this:
The logos and text on this page are not links, meaning if you’re confused by any of these instructions — if you don’t know how to notify members of changes, or set up regular check-in meetings — you’ll have to search the training materials for more information. You can download this and all the other guides as a PDF, but the resulting jumble of images might be more confusing than the searchable site where Google is already storing them.
You can also take a more in-depth journey through Google’s training with job-based instructions.
If you were to chose “project management,” you’d find this page:
Each modular tip has a link that leads to a step-by-step that’s actually part of the G Suite Learning Center we looked at earlier.
G Suite Training Browser Extension
There’s also Google’s Chrome extension that layers interactive walkthroughs and tutorials over your in-browser G Suite experience. Not only can you deploy this extension to your entire organization using G Suite’s app management options but the app itself will also teach you how to do it.
Get the Chrome extension here, if you’re not a G Suite customer yet.
If you are a G Suite customer already, use this G Suite apps marketplace link.
Google’s free training is extremely comprehensive, but if you want to sit down for a few days and become a power user, it could get pretty confusing. Instead, this is oriented toward solving immediate problems and providing information ‘in-the-moment.’
If you’re looking for a guided course, this is your best option.
- Content: Complete G Suite direct from Google
- Pricing: Free (no certificate) or $29.00 (with certificate)
- Expected knowledge: You should be familiar with G Suite’s core apps
- Certificate: Yes
- Languages: English, Spanish subtitles available
Google provides its structured self-study course in G Suite administration through Coursera.
Google estimates that this course should take about 4-5 days, while Coursera says it should take you about 9 hours. It’s available in English, with English and Spanish subtitles, and consists of a mix of videos, readings, and quizzes.
If you’ve never used G Suite before, this course doesn’t assume a lot of knowledge. It starts by walking you through account setup and introducing you to the Admin console.
How you take the course is up to you: if you’re a G Suite customer, you can have everything except the exam and certification for free. Commit to earning the certificate and the course will cost you $29.00.
We’ll do a (very quick!) walk through what the course offers.
It starts with an introductory video that assumes little knowledge of G Suites, but that you’ll have some familiarity with tech — you’ll know what a Service Level Agreement is, for instance. This walks you through what G Suite is, and the basics of how it works.
As you work through the course, you’ll be directed over and over again to the Google Help Center, and you’ll need to install the Chrome extension too.
So this course is like a guided tour through the material you can view in an unstructured way simply by installing the Chrome extension and using the Help Center.
Here’s what the course promises to teach:
- Set up your G Suite account and domain, and explore the G Suite Admin console
- Begin provisioning and managing users within your G Suite domain
- Implement fundamental best management practices behind various G Suite services
- Configure common security settings
- Manage your domain and add a domain alias
Unlike the self-serve approach, this course packs a lot of information into short, structured, modular sessions. It’s accessible, much lower in cost than most competitors and much more comprehensive.
- Content: G Suite use and administration including Sites, domain management, Vault
- Pricing: $59.00
- Expected knowledge: Basic familiarity with the core apps or a similar productivity suite
- Certificate: Yes, issued by Udemy
- Languages: English
Udemy’s best-selling course is $59.99, and promises to be ‘the only G Suite Course you’ll ever need.’ It includes 12.5 hours of video, 2 articles, 8 downloadable resources, and a certificate of completion. You can see preview videos on the course’s homepage.
However, it should be noted that there’s nothing in this course that isn’t available in Google’s own course, which is half the price. Udemy tags this course a ‘bestseller’ which means that over 945 users have enrolled.
Reviews are generally positive, but where there are criticisms they center around the lack of real-world examples and step-by-step processes:
However, this remains a more expensive alternative to Google’s authoritative offering. While it’s comprehensive, Google offers its own comprehensive support to its users.
- Content: Massive and deep, covering how-tos and full courses
- Pricing: Free trial, then custom pricing
- Expected knowledge: None — beginner, intermediate and advanced courses and materials are available
- Certificate: Yes
- Languages: English
Skillsoft offers a searchable knowledge base including short videos, longer courses and ‘micro-learning,’ letting you search the site for exactly what you need and watch a short video.
That has some advantages over Google’s Training Center, where static text-based instructionals give you basic walk-throughs.
Skillsoft is an ‘intelligent learning platform’ that doesn’t just deliver G Suite materials. Searching the whole site for ‘G Suite’ gets you a mixed bag of channels, long and short videos and courses.
The courses are modular and do offer certificates:
Short videos cover subjects like “Creating G Suite OUs.”
The shorter videos can be watched by searching for them and navigating to them. But they also form part of the larger courses offered on the platform. In essence, this is Google’s approach in reverse: where Google builds courses on top of a freeform knowledge base, Skillsoft deconstructs its courses to facilitate its microlearning.
The site is available in French as well as English, but the course materials are in English only.
While the short videos have the obvious advantage that you can watch someone doing what you want to do, they can be frustratingly slow. If you’re a fast reader and comfortable following instructions, Google’s courses will suit you better.
- Content: G Suire basics on the full range of apps
- Pricing: Starts at $15 per person, with some wiggle room and deals
- Expected knowledge: Zero. You can be totally new to cloud productivity suites
- Certificate: No certificate
- Languages: English
GetBiggerBrains offers a range of courses related to business productivity, including the MS Office applications, Quickbooks, Windows 10 and cybersecurity.
Their G Suite essentials course covers:
- Communicating with Gmail
- Storing documents in Google Drive
- Collaborating using Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, and Forms
- Communicating with Hangouts
- Manage schedules and tasks with Google Calendar
- Create and share webpages in Google Sites
Course materials are delivered in several ways. You can use their web portal, or larger organizations can integrate their content into your own Learning Management System. The course is over two hours and briefly introduces the G Suite core apps under the tutelage of Amy Roberts, Adobe Education Trainer and Google Expert.
Pricing is $15/seat and up, and courses can be accessed from any desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
The material is pretty similar to the other courses. The main advantage to choosing GetBiggerBrains is the tracking and management features that will help you ensure that your employees complete the G Suite training. If that’s not a concern for you, go with one of the other G suite training options.