HE and ChatGPT: A Best Practice Guide

Higher education is enthralled with ChatGPT. As the hottest new tool, the AI text generator has captured the attention of every marketer in the world. Something to do our work for us? What a dream!

From academics to CEOs, everyone wants to know how to use the tool to best. More importantly, as more AI tools are announced, marketers want to know how to leverage it responsibly. Let’s forget for a moment that ChaptGPT is a regressive technology, trained on our collective knowledge prior to 2021. That the system inherently aggregates society’s deep routed bias towards topics such as race, sex, and gender. Let’s also ignore the growing industry calls for regulation of a technology not yet fully understood. And let’s forgive education marketers for the great hypocrisy, jumping to use tools which would expel students at their very same institutions.

We’re going to gloss over the major ethical issues of AI, because let’s be honest; those arguments aren’t going to slow it’s adoption. Instead, let’s focus on how to navigate AI wisely. We’ll cover its best use cases, what to watch out for, and how it can help alleviate the needs of HE marketers today.

What ChatGPT is Good For:

There are several areas where AI truly excels. These include template generation, trend analysis and disciplines which are cyclical in nature.

Say you’re working on a presentation. Ask ChatGPT to create an outline. It will likely present you with the fundamentals of storytelling; a good hook, a series of arguments with evidence and a compelling conclusion. These templates extend to all manners of work, from essays and public speeches to posters and training modules. But that’s all they are, templates. A suggested flow based off patterns of writing and speech.  It’s up to you to fill in those blanks.

AI is also useful for data analysis, sifting through large amounts of information quickly to pull out patterns. This can save a lot of time and energy for teams of analysts looking for actionable insights. This is particularly useful when extracting common keywords on Google, or understanding which products and courses drive the most incremental value.

This feeds into a bigger story arc for AI. It excels in fields which rarely change such as mathematics and law. These are subjects with definitive limitations for right and wrong, based off years of precedent. Yes, some laws are adapted over time as society evolves, but rarely does legal jargon vary. Have ChatGPT write up a standard contract or write basic formulas some excel documents. AI and ChatGPT thrive under repetitive tasks, which will both save you time and likely some sanity.

Things to Avoid With ChatGPT

Just because it can be useful does not mean it’s suited for every task. AI is programmed. Like any tech tool, its limitations are based off the parameters it was built upon. In the case of ChatGPT, the biggest limitation is data ingestion. It isn’t capable of keeping up real-time, because it needs to be consistently trained. This already creates red flags with regards to particular tasks.

Take social media for instance. While tempting to lean on AI to generate a plethora of post copy, short form writing is an area to avoid. This is for two reasons. First, the speed of trends. Any social aficionado will tell you how quickly a trend will rise and fall on Tiktok. By the time third party AI understands a trend, it’s long past. Second, social copy breaks conventional rules of grammar.  It’s colloquial, erratic, emotion based, and full of emojis. In short, it’s not formulaic enough to resonate with an audience who’s focused on authenticity. Social media users, particularly those in gen Z, are hyper trained to sniff out a fake so steer clear.

Similarly, don’t use AI to evoke emotion. Sure, you can train it on inspiring speeches, and rousing monologues, but ask any speechwriter how plagiarised prose goes down with an audience meant to be inspired. One quick search will tell you it doesn’t end well.

Similarly, the last area to avoid is thought leadership. As mentioned, AI works from past knowledge and opinion. It’s not capable of developing an original thought. It can reiterate past perspectives, but it won’t offer something new. Leave opinion pieces to your industry experts who can project the future based off their own lived and nuanced experience.

Best Practice When Using Chat GPT:

Now that we’ve covered the strengths and weaknesses, we can start to zero in on how best to navigate the technology.

We’ve already discussed leveraging it to generate templates, but like any tool, ChatGPT still requires a few prompts to get there. Here’s where the folks over at Element451 have developed a helpful guide to navigate the technology.

ChatGPT Chat Sheet

Ok now we have a great launching point, but the next step is critical. You need to have someone actually edit the product. We’re not just talking about a quick readthrough. What’s required is a thorough review of all facts presented, a pulse check on the tone of language, and a critical evaluation of the material to ensure it meets brand guidelines. This is where it becomes apparent that AI needs a trusted eye to meet the quality of a human expert. It’s more than likely that editing will be required at this phase, so block out due time to get it right.

Finally, the best advice I can offer is to be transparent when leveraging ChatGPT. Just as we’re trained to give credit our sources, whether publications, journalists or authors, so too should you credit AI. Even when edited, mention it’s involvement. New surveys have shown that the majority of people want to be told when AI has been used. It isn’t about a stigma of leveraging AI, it’s about transparency and trust.

The Future of ChatGPT

For all the chatter around ChatGPT, we’ve only just begun to experience it’s true potential. As AI adoption continues, it’s on track to revolutionise our workflows. Now whether future regulation and public discourse change its trajectory is left to be seen.

For now, it’s best to be prepared. Embed the best practices we’ve outlined, and if ever in question just go the old school route. There isn’t anything more authentic than yourself.