ChatGPT for Educators
How to Get the Most from ChatGPT for You & Your Students
A month ago, I published ChatGPT for Educators - a practical guide to using ChatGPT for educators.
Since then, I’ve continued to research how ChatGPT can be optimised for use in the K12, HE & L&D classroom.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned:
🥡 Key Take Aways:
AI is here to stay - let’s embrace it
An AI Classroom Manifesto is a powerful tool for integrating ChatGPT into your practice - use mine, below, as a starting point
Prompt Engineering is a new specialism for educators & students to master - check out my Role > Task > Instruction prompt to 10X your and your students’ prompting powers today
🚀 Let’s go!
Lesson #1: AI is Here to Stay
Whether we like it or not, AI is already part of our students’ lives. It will only become more critical in their future. As educators, we have three options:
Ban it, using tech like GPTZero.
Bury it, by returning to in-person assessment & testing.
Embrace it & prepare our students to be critical consumers & expert users of AI in a post-AI world.
You can find real examples of each of these reactions in a previous post.
Lesson #2: Write an AI Manifesto
An AI Classroom Manifesto is a powerful tool for introducing AI to your classroom. It enables you and your students to have a clear, shared expectation of how and when to use ChatGPT responsibly & effectively.
Here’s an example of a manifesto that I’ve used. It’s short and simple but highly effective:
Policy 1: Do Not Trust ChatGPT
Always assume that ChatGPT is wrong until you prove otherwise. Verify everything that ChatGPT produces with at least one peer-reviewed source, and cite your evidence.
Tip: Use tools like Quillbot to summarise articles and validate or invalidate ChatGPT quickly.
Policy 2: ChatGPT Needs You
ChatGPT is a personal assistant, not a professor. You get out what you put in. If you put in low quality prompts, you will get out low quality results. Quality is your responsibility. Learning how to write great prompts will take time and energy, but it will pay off.
Tip: I will provide guidance on how to structure prompts to get the most out of ChatGPT in the course of your research and paper-writing.
Lesson #3: Most of Us Suck at Using ChatGPT
Without training, educators & students use AI badly. Here are the four most common errors I see every day:
Lack of Context: ChatGPT has access to over 45 terabytes of data. Without contextualised prompting comes confusion.
Lack of Structure: ChatGPT thrives on short, structured requests. Generally prompts created by educators and students are too long and too unstructured.
Lack of Specificity: Vague inputs = vague & unreliable outputs.
🚩 Too Much Trust: ChatGPT is more confident than it is competent. We need to assume errors & validate everything.
Lesson #4: Prompt Engineering is a New Specialism that Educators & Students Need to Learn
Prompt engineering is the process of crafting prompts that help ChatGPT to generate the best possible output. Without the ability to craft great prompts, you & your students are stuck.
After exploring the art of writing great prompts - with help along from some great like Rob Lennon - I developed an approach for educators and students which works pretty well. It goes like this:
Prompt Part 1: Start By Giving Chat GPT a Role
Without context, ChatGPT is lost. The most effective way to start cut through 45 terabytes of data noise is to give ChatGPT a specific role. This helps set the scene & context for the prompts & conversation to come.
Role: You are an expert K12 science teacher who specialises in teaching climate change to ten year olds.
Role: You are a well-known climate change protestor who is famous for their deep understanding of the difference between global warming & climate change.
Helpful ChatGPT roles for educators include:
Prompt Part 2: Next, Give ChatGPT a Specific Task
Once you’ve established ChatGPT’s role, as part of the same prompt, give it a specific task to complete.
Task: Your task is to write a lesson plan for a one-hour lesson on climate change for ten year old K12 students, using active learning pedagogy."
Task: Your task is to help me to write an essay on competing theories of quantum gravity using peer-reviewed research papers including "Experimental observation of optical bound states in the continuum” by Y. Yang, C. Peng, Y. Liang, et al., Nature Photonics 14, 465 (2020).
By preceding the prompt with a keyword on the purpose of the text, e.g “Role” or “Task”, you provide ChatGPT with additional structure and context which helps to generate to better, more reliable outputs.
By repeating key information, e.g. specifying in both your role and task input that you’re designing for K12 learners, you reinforce key variables in your request, which helps to generate to better, more reliable outputs.
Prompt Part 3: Finish with Instructions
Finally, before you set ChatGPT off to do its thing, be clear about what you do & don’t want ChatGPT to produce. If possible, include examples & suggested structures to inform its thinking & output.
Instructions: This is a first draft. Keep the lesson plan as short as possible, using bullet points where possible. Present the lesson plan in a table format with the following columns: objective, resources, activity, timeframe.
Instructions: Provide an annotated bibliography of all of the peer-reviewed evidence used to write the essay you produce. For each reference, provide the title and a one line description of what the article says and how it supports the argument made in the essay.
Phil’s Bonus Tips
Some additional top tips I picked up along the way:
Breaking down tasks into single steps rather than asking ChatGPT to do too many things all at once will provide the focus that ChatGPT needs to respond to tasks successfully.
ChatGPT can stop generating responses mid-response, usually because it's hit its word count limit. If this happens, type "continue from [quote last five words]" to pick up where it left off.
Finally, ChatGPT is not a mathematician. Avoid asking ChatGPT to do the math and instead rely on other sources for tasks like word counts.
That’s all folks! If you liked this, you can download a shareable version on my Gumroad site.
You might also want to give me a follow on LinkedIn and check out my resources, courses and subscriptions on the DOMS™️ website.
Phil & the Bots 👋