ChatGPT In The Workplace: Practical Strategies For Faculty, Staff & Administrators
Challenge - How To Use ChatGPT
- ChatGPT, software that generates many paragraphs of coherent-sounding text at a time, is so new and is evolving so quickly (a new, more advanced version was just released) that many feel anxiety as well as growing excitement about it.
- Many higher ed administrators and educators may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of working with AI text generators like ChatGPT.
- Even if they are comfortable with the idea, they may have a limited sense of how these tools can be used and may miss out on assistance.
- It is easy to be misled by ChatGPT’s seeming authority and responsiveness; without a good understanding of its pitfalls, we may get into trouble.
Participants will gain confidence and understanding of ways they might use ChatGPT in their work as faculty or administrators to help them generate ideas, revise their own writing style and content, and analyze text or convert it to another format.
ChatGPT, software that generates new, uncopied text in response to a user’s request, has seen an unprecedented rate of adoption since its release in November. But we have only just begun. Large language models like ChatGPT are continuing to develop and becoming widespread; Microsoft and Google have announced that Word and Docs will soon offer text generation, a kind of auto-predict for whole paragraphs and essays. Much discussion of language models like ChatGPT in higher education has focused on concerns around academic integrity and student misuse, but now interest is growing among faculty and administrators in using language models in our own work.
ChatGPT can indeed help with tasks like email, report writing, rubrics, lesson planning, meeting minutes, and grant applications. The assistance can range from idea generation to suggestions for clarification or development to style and grammar feedback. Using a language model doesn’t have to take the place of expertise and original thinking; ChatGPT can be a sounding board and a stimulus. It can also be used to summarize or analyze texts we might not otherwise have the time to reflect on.
I will share and demonstrate several straightforward, nontechnical strategies for getting good results from ChatGPT. I will warn, too, about the pitfalls of using ChatGPT in situations where we might not be able to identify its biases and errors in fact and reasoning. Even pure fabrications from ChatGPT can appear authoritative, and outputs can mislead us in subtle ways. We should also consider privacy concerns and FERPA restrictions before sharing information with the system.
Regardless of whether we decide to use ChatGPT or other language models, it is worth familiarizing ourselves with the ways we might interact with it. Then we can make our own determinations about how it might support our ethics and sense of purpose in the field of higher education.
Identify at least five common faculty and administrator tasks ChatGPT can be helpful with
- Write specific prompts for ChatGPT that describe the style and structure of the text desired
- Learn ways to re-prompt for better results when ChatGPT doesn’t give the kind of output desired.
- Distinguish between advisable and unadvisable faculty and administrator uses of ChatGPT
- Describe common kinds of errors to watch for in ChatGPT output.
- Human Resources
- Online Learning
- Student Services/Affairs
Anna Mills teaches writing at College of Marin and previously taught at City College of San Francisco for 17 years. Her collection “AI Text Generators and Teaching Writing: Starting Points for Inquiry” is featured in the Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse; it includes a curated collection of articles on AI in higher ed, sample AI essays, sample policies, and more. She has also written an Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook, How Arguments Work: A Guide to Writing and Analyzing Texts in College, which has been used at over 45 colleges. Anna's essays have appeared in journals such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and The Writer's Chronicle. She was asked to test OpenAI’s most recent model, GPT-4, before its release and provided feedback to the company on its implications for higher education.
Bio current as of May 2023
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