Having just finished teaching one of the country’s first undergraduate courses on using ChatGPT, I’m more excited than ever by how the tool stimulates creative and critical thinking

I’ve spent the past six weeks reading over 2,000 conversations between ChatGPT and a bunch of undergraduate students, and I’ve come out the other side though with more respect than ever for how generative AI is poised to transform learning.

This was the inaugural offering of my online course on basic prompt engineering. And with 72 students completing 30 graded assignments each — many of them using ChatGPT — I feel like I’ve undergone a ChatGPT baptism of fire.

I must confess that, when I designed the course, I didn’t think about how much work I was creating for myself. This has been a mountain of a task, with a good amount of time spent each day reading and reviewing wide ranging conversations between students and ChatGPT (all using GPT4). I’ve been blown away though by just how insightful these conversations have been in helping me understand the potential value of text-based generative AI platforms when working with students.

Naturally, the limitations of the platform have been very clear through the class — and this is something I explicitly teach. ChatGPT makes stuff up, it gets things wrong, it’s inconsistent, and sometimes it’s frustratingly hard to get it to do what you want it to.

And yet despite this I’m left with an overwhelming realization that, for all its limitations, ChatGPT is a profoundly effective catalyst for engaged and creative thinking. In fact, it seems that it’s effective because of its limitations in some cases, rather than despite them …