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What Education Programs Need to Know About ChatGPT

Brian Rahill

March 3, 2023

ChatGPT might just be the biggest game changer in technology since the iPhone. Developed by the software company OpenAI, ChatGPT is a chatbot designed to produce language that sounds human. Users interact with the bot by typing questions, and the bot responds with answers that sound like they could have been written by a human.

Not only is the new chatbot an impressive step forward for artificial intelligence, it has also elicited controversy and strong opinions. Many who work in academia, education, or writing-heavy fields worry that the AI model presents copyright concerns, plagiarism issues, and a move away from the human element in writing. 

Ultimately, ChatGPT is a tool. We’ll take a look at how you might use it to write course descriptions, titles, and other content, as well as the potential pitfalls to be aware of if you do. 

What Is ChatGPT? 

If you’ve ever interacted with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or any online customer service chat, you’ve already used the basic technology that drives ChatGPT. These tools use language models to analyze language and then mimic those patterns using an encyclopedia consisting of all the written content on the internet.

Just like with Siri and Alexa, ChatGPT users ask a question and the technology generates an answer. In theory, it can answer anything, from “What are Newton’s laws of motion?” to “What acting class should I take next?” 

ChatGPT is a viral phenomenon for a few reasons, including its wide range of applications, from composing legal briefs to writing code.

ChatGPT is becoming a viral phenomenon for a few reasons:

  • It sounds more “human-like” than any chatbots before it, in large part due to the massive amounts of data it analyzes to generate responses.

  • It can “remember” information that occurred previously in the conversation and refer back to it. This makes the user feel like they’re speaking to a person, not a computer with a limited range of canned responses.

  • Its range of applications is seemingly endless, from writing student papers and legal briefs to composing music and writing code.

It’s also accessible to the public, unlike the proprietary technology that belongs to companies like Amazon and Apple. Only two months after its launch, ChatGPT had 100 million monthly users, a milestone that most software takes years to reach. 

How Can ChatGPT Be Used for Course Marketing? 

You can use ChatGPT for anything you write: emails, blog posts, course descriptions, social media posts and captions, or web pages. While ChatGPT can write just about anything, it’s more helpful in some scenarios than others.

If you’re working on something that needs an authentic human voice, like a witty social media caption, ChatGPT may miss the mark. It’s better suited to more formal and informative content, like course descriptions for your catalog. 

The text it produces lacks the sentence variety and the originality of human-authored content, but it can also deliver some surprisingly impressive results. 

Asking ChatGPT to Write Course Descriptions

We tested the chatbot to see what it could do. Here’s what ChatGPT wrote when we asked it to write a course description for a pottery class: 

This pottery course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of ceramic arts and the exciting world of pottery making. During this 8-week course, you will learn about various hand-building and wheel-throwing techniques to create functional and decorative pieces.

From preparing clay to glazing and firing, you will receive hands-on experience and instruction to develop your skills. In a supportive and creative environment, you will explore your imagination and express your individuality through your work.

Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, this class is suitable for all levels and aims to foster a love and appreciation for pottery. Join us and discover the joys of molding, shaping, and transforming clay into beautiful works of art!

When we began a new chat and asked the same question, here’s what the bot delivered: 

Learn the art of pottery making in this hands-on class!  Whether you are a beginner or have some experience, you will discover new techniques and tools to enhance your skills.

In this class, you will learn how to prepare clay, form it on the wheel, and create unique pieces using various hand-building techniques. You will also learn how to decorate and glaze your pieces, and the proper methods for firing and finishing your creations. 

Class size is limited to ensure individual attention and support from the instructor. All materials, tools, and firing are included in the course fee. No prior experience is necessary, just bring your creativity and your enthusiasm! 

By the end of the class, you will have created a number of pieces to take home and enjoy, and will have gained the skills and confidence to continue your pottery-making journey. So join us and unleash your inner artist! 

In our opinion, the first course description is better than the second. The second suffers from repetition and some meaningless sentences, but it might be a good starting point for a human writer to work from.

More Examples of ChatGPT in Action

When we asked ChatGPT to name the pottery class, it generated these possibilities: 

  • “Clay Creation: An Introduction to Pottery”
  • “Forming Function: An Introduction to Pottery”
  • “Clay Connection: A Journey in Pottery Making” 

We like that last one. It sounds like a real adventure.

When we asked how it would name a similar class for kids, ChatGPT suggested “Mold & Create: A Pottery Adventure for Kids.” 

We asked ChatGPT the question that has been on everyone’s mind: Will AI make human writers obsolete?

We also asked it the question that has been on everyone’s mind since ChatGPT was launched: Will AI make human writers obsolete?

Part of its answer read: 

Writing is more than just generating text. It involves researching, brainstorming, editing, and revising, all of which require human skills that AI models like myself are currently unable to replicate. AI can certainly assist writers by automating certain tasks or suggesting improvements, but it is unlikely to replace the need for human writers entirely.

Ultimately, we think the best way to use ChatGPT is as a starting point. Let it assemble the essential information into a first draft that you can edit to add your voice or the voice of your organization’s brand. 

Why Is ChatGPT Controversial? 

As with any situation when machines and computers take over human work, some people fear that ChatGPT will take jobs away from journalists, marketers, and other people in writing-heavy fields. Teachers have caught students using ChatGPT to write their papers. Developers have used it to solve coding challenges. Of course, it could also be used for more malicious activities like writing malware, phishing emails, and sexist and racist content, among other problematic outputs.

The most concerning aspect of ChatGPT is that it removes context around information.

Potentially the most concerning aspect of ChatGPT is that it removes context, making it easy to accidentally spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. Even OpenAI recognizes that ChatGPT “may occasionally generate incorrect information” and “may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content.”

To avoid these sorts of issues, make sure to fact-check all ChatGPT-generated content before publishing it. 

Should You Use ChatGPT? 

If you think ChatGPT sounds exciting, give it a try while it’s still freely accessible. The developers recently announced a paid subscription service for peak-time users, and other paywalls are likely to pop up in the future.

ChatGPT is not going to render human writers obsolete anytime soon. It’s a tool that can make tasks like course description writing a little easier. You get to test it out and decide if and how you use it. 

Speaking of tools that make your life easier, CourseStorm’s student registration software helps simplify class registration, display your course listings, and market your course offerings all in one easy-to-use software tool. Start your free trial today, or contact us to learn more.

Brian Rahill

Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.

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