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Should You Use AI to Write Your Course Descriptions?

Greg Shula

April 17, 2024

With generative artificial intelligence making headlines all over the place, some education directors and their teams are wondering whether they should use AI to write course descriptions. After all, course description writing can be time consuming, especially for those who are not confident writers or have heavy workloads and limited time to be creative. 

Does AI really save you time writing course descriptions, or are you better off looking for other ways to streamline your processes?

This question of whether to use AI to write course descriptions is not an easy one to answer. It comes down to your goals, level of comfort with the technology, and ethical stance on generative AI tools. Plus, it’s worth considering whether AI really saves you time, or whether you’re better off looking for other ways to streamline your processes. Since we’ve heard this question several times from CourseStorm customers and the internet at large, let’s discuss it. 

Can an AI Writing Tool Create Course Descriptions?

The answer to this question is theoretically yes. AI tools will attempt to write pretty much anything you ask for. Whether they do a good job of it is another story.

Every course description shares a few common goals: 

  • Get students excited about the class
  • Inform them about benefits and outcomes
  • Tell them where and how to register

A quality course description does all of this in a couple of hundred words. It uses words and ideas that will resonate with the intended audience and convince them to take action. This is the standard AI writing tools have to meet.

We tested two web-based, free generative AI tools: ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini. These are the most easily accessible options for nonprofits and small businesses. There are dozens of other tools out there, but many involve monthly subscription fees or desktop downloads. 

The user experience for these sites is pretty simple. You visit the site, sign in, and enter your prompt into the chat box. A prompt is the question or request you’d like the technology to answer.

The prompt: Write a class description for an adult improv class that includes “yes, and” improvisation, finding agreement, scene building, and team collaboration.

ChatGPT: First Attempt

The first result ChatGPT spit out was almost 400 words long, so we won’t reproduce the whole thing here. The opening line was: “Welcome to our Adult Improv Class where creativity thrives, laughter echoes, and spontaneity reigns supreme!” Which sounds more like the opening line of a game show than the start of a class description. 

Second Attempt, ChatGPT

One of the interesting things about ChatGPT is that you can ask it to try again and get an instant rewrite. Asking for something a little shorter gave us a much more manageable 95-word result. 

Welcome to our Adult Improv Class! Dive into the exciting world of improvisational theater with a focus on “Yes, And” improvisation, finding agreement, scene building, and team collaboration.

In this class, you’ll:

  • Learn the “Yes, And” principle: Embrace spontaneity and build upon your scene partner’s ideas.
  • Develop agreement skills: Enhance your ability to listen and create cohesive scenes.
  • Master scene building: Discover the essentials of crafting engaging narratives on the spot.
  • Foster team collaboration: Work together to create memorable comedic moments.

Join us for a fun and rewarding journey into the heart of improv comedy!

Missing Important Details

This actually isn’t a terrible result. It seems to be factually accurate and looks like a course description. However, it lacks some of the essential information we’d like to see: 

  • An opening that hooks the reader
  • What students will gain from taking the course
  • A call to action

The opening: “Welcome to our Adult Improv Class!” is just fluff. It doesn’t tell the reader anything. The second sentence isn’t much better, it simply lists the four skills covered in the class. It’s then followed by … a list of the four skills covered in the class. Neither of these lists get to the real benefits of the class. 

The last sentence is trying hard to be exciting, but is also almost meaningless. What exactly is the “heart of improv comedy” and why should an adult want to discover it? 

The longer-form ending was slightly better: 

Whether you’re looking to boost your confidence, sharpen your comedic timing, or simply unleash your inner creativity, our Adult Improv Class offers a fun and rewarding journey into the heart of improvisational theater. Join us and embark on an unforgettable adventure where laughter knows no bounds and every moment is an opportunity to shine!

While it produced a factually accurate result, there were lots of meaningless words. We give ChatGPT a C+ in course description writing.

At least this version offers readers the outcome they can expect from the class: boost confidence, sharpen comedic timing, or unleash inner creativity. It’s still surrounded by a lot of meaningless words added simply to build excitement.

Overall, we give ChatGPT a C+ in class description writing.

Google Gemini: First Attempt

Google Gemini is another free-to-use AI writing tool that many organizations have experimented with. The same prompt on Gemini gives a more promising result. It delivered about 200 words in a reasonable format. It certainly looks like a course description. 

Unleash Your Inner Comic with Adult Improv!

Have you always wanted to try improv comedy but felt too intimidated? Our adult improv class is the perfect place to start! In a supportive and fun environment, you’ll learn the fundamentals of improvisation, including:

  • The Power of “Yes, And” – The core tenet of improv is to agree with and build upon your scene partner’s ideas. We’ll explore how “yes, and” can help you create spontaneous, hilarious scenes.
  • Finding Agreement – Improv is all about creating a world together as a team. You’ll learn how to listen to your scene partners and find common ground to build upon.
  • Scene Building Techniques – We’ll teach you the building blocks of improv scenes, from creating characters to developing storylines.
  • Team Collaboration – Improv is a team sport! You’ll learn how to work together with your classmates to create scenes that are both funny and engaging.

Benefits of Taking the Class

In addition to being a lot of fun, improv offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Boosted confidence and public speaking skills
  • Enhanced creativity and thinking on your feet
  • Improved listening and communication skills
  • Stronger teamwork and collaboration skills

Ready to Get Started?

Sign up for our next adult improv class today! You’ll be amazed at how much you learn and laugh.

Better Results, Subtle Issues

This is a much better description right out of the box. It starts by speaking to one of the reasons people may be reluctant to sign up. Then it includes the skills actors will learn, defining terms that may not be immediately understandable to a novice audience. Finally, it lists the benefits of the class, which are essential points to convince adults that a class is worth taking.

A closer read reveals some potential problems as well. The first line mentions that the reader might be intimidated, but the rest of the description doesn’t do much to overcome that objection. The phrase “supportive and fun environment” is inching closer, but it’s not going to convince a shy person to take action. 

Then we get to those definitions and descriptions, and it turns out some of them may be missing the mark. The description on finding agreement includes the phrase “find common ground to build upon,” which feels more like a conflict resolution meeting rather than something that happens on an improv set. 

Second Attempt, Google Gemini

Unlike ChatGPT, Google Gemini does not offer a regeneration option. If you re-input the same prompt, you do get a different result. That result was clearly weaker than the previous one. It includes phrases like “Improv isn’t just about guffaws” and “springboard to hilarious spontaneity.” In fact, variations of the word “hilarious” appear four times in less than 300 words. 

Pros and Cons: Using AI to Write Course Descriptions

We can’t tell you whether you should use AI to write class descriptions. All we can do is present the pros and cons of using this technology.

Why Use AI to Write Course Descriptions: 

  • It’s fast
  • You don’t have to be a skilled writer

Drawbacks to Using AI to Write Course Descriptions: 

  • Results can be either bland or overly cutesy
  • You may need to spend more time editing and refining
  • Ethical concerns
  • Lacks your unique brand voice

That last point is especially important. Learners have options. They can take classes online, travel to a different location, or simply stay at home and watch clips of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

Your brand’s unique voice and personality is part of what encourages learners to register. A human writer can draw on their own experience of learning. They may know what it’s like to live in your community or region and write from that perspective. 

Just for fun, we asked Gemini to generate a class description suitable for a Midwestern audience. The results were … questionable. Let’s just say it opened with the line: Ever feel like you’re the life of the county fair but clam up in the city lights?  The “yes, and” approach was described as “like passin’ the gravy.” 

Using AI for writing may alienate some potential students, since many artists and writers have strong objections to AI technology. 

Generative AI programs may be able to write passable text, but they’re still missing a lot of the nuance that human writers bring. They also pose an ethical dilemma, especially for creative arts organizations. Using AI for writing may alienate some potential students, since many artists and writers have strong objections to generative AI technology. 

How to Use AI to Write Course Descriptions

If you do want to experiment with using AI to write course descriptions, get the best results with these best practices: 

  • Learn the technology. Writing a good prompt can go a long way. Learn how the technology works and how to write a prompt that delivers the results you want.

  • Edit before you post. Read the output carefully and edit where necessary. You should never copy and paste AI output directly into your class catalog. 

  • Double-check for the basic elements of a class description: These include a hook, benefits, and call to action. As we saw, many AI tools miss at least one of these.

If you’d rather write your own course description from scratch, these examples and templates will help get you started

Better Ways to Save Time

We at CourseStorm are not averse to using AI to save time and solve problems — in fact, we are developing a new AI-powered feature that will simplify running reports on your education program.

In fact, every feature of CourseStorm’s online registration software is designed to save time and reduce the administrative burden on your staff while improving students’ experience at the same time. It’s simple, intuitive, and easy to set up and use, even if you’re not especially tech-savvy.

An arts education director who tried it told us, “I opened CourseStorm and built a class in 3 minutes!” But don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free trial today and find out for yourself!

Greg Shula

Greg has spent a decade analyzing business and marketing performance metrics of the companies he has worked with. He uses his analytical mind and investigative skills to find trends and simple answers from complicated data sets. Greg is also an amateur photographer who loves to capture nature from new perspectives.

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