Ways to constructively use the chatGPT AI in your course

Fed by massive amounts of data scanned from the Internet, the ChatGPT AI does a remarkable job at producing conversational text and even structured code in response to prompts. The amazing thing is that you can “ask” chatGPT questions in a conversational tone (with text), and it will respond in kind. The answers are not always detailed, it has some limits on its ability, but this tool, and others like it, will change the online learning experience for teachers and students alike.

The first and best piece of advice, especially if you are unfamiliar with ChatGPT, is to play and experiment with the tool. You can start interacting with ChatGPT at chat.openai.com/auth/login by using your UA Google identity to sign up.

Try asking it questions, perhaps the same exact questions that you might ask your students in an exam or a discussion board prompt. See what the response is. Does it satisfy you? Could you tell that it is coming from an AI rather than a human? Does it display depth of knowledge, Is it accurate? Does it integrate knowledge from other parts of your course, and or discipline? Does it display creativity, uniqueness and align to your learning objectives? By experimenting with the tool, you will quickly become familiar with its abilities. 

UAF CTL hosted a workshop[1] on “Teaching and Learning in the Era of Massive AI.” in early February. Part of the discussion involved the AIs’ basics, its limitations, how to detect cheating and several faculty shared examples of its use in their courses here at UAF. We shared a large list of resources containing articles, tutorial videos, podcasts and journal articles.[2] But what about using it effectively as an Instructor with the expectation that your students will also use it?

At times, students may be reluctant to answer a prompt in class, either online or face-to-face. However,  they maybe more inclined to respond to statements that have easily identifiable and intentional errors in them. As an instructor, you might think of using chatGPT to generate content that has intentional errors in it. 

Taken a step further, this method of ‘producing intentional errors’ and asking students or peers to find the mistakes can help in generating good study aids. What else? Can we ask the AI to produce sample writing with intentionally bad grammar? Can we ask ChatGPT to produce code with a single flaw? What kinds of mistakes do students typically make in your discipline? An activity like the above can make a good exercise in sharpening students’ mental stones.

One strength of ChatGPT is that of content starter dough. You can give it a prompt, and then edit your question (this is called prompt engineering), and watch how the response changes. Consider the task of generating practice exercises for your course.

You might want to consider directing your students to use ChatGPT proactively to generate content, but ask them to explain and share their prompts. This method of developing, refining, and documenting a query is mirrored in some literature survey requirements for students. The process makes students focus not only on results but the means to get the results they want.

What are some other ways you can use the tool to create learning content?

The next workshop on ChatGPT from CTL will be on March 21st at 1pm and will offer examples and practice on specific ways that you can constructively use AI tools like ChatGPT in your course.

[1] Zoom recording of early February Workshop on “Teaching and Learning in the Era of Massive AI.”

[2] Shared Drive of ChatGPT resources

Dan Lasota

Dan LaSota

Instructional Designer
Certified QM Peer Reviewer
Certified QM Training Facilitator


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *