By Margie McGee-Newton
Creative and Content Manager, Consultant
The Career Leadership Collective
Career services leaders and staff are beginning to ask, how will Generative AI impact our field, for better or worse? A recent survey of higher education leaders found that 90% are discussing generative AI, such as ChatGPT, with other leaders. The survey also found that 70% of respondents believe that generative AI will positively impact higher education, while 20% think it will negatively impact it. Our career teams can harness the power of generative AI to help us scale our work and increase impact with our constituents.
ChatGPT can potentially revolutionize how students learn and interact with faculty and staff. However, it has also raised concerns about academic integrity and the future of roles that provide student-facing services. Some universities have banned students from using ChatGPT, while others are exploring ways to integrate it into their curriculum. Ultimately, how AI is used in higher education will depend on how institutions balance the potential benefits with the potential risks.
Now that we've agreed that it's a complex topic, let's dig into how ChatGPT and other generative AI might impact our work in career services. For simplicity's sake, I have created a pros and cons list that outlines ways students might leverage this technology and how we can support and coach them. NOTE: Rather than starting with “How should we introduce or gatekeep access to this tool?” it is essential to center the students in this exercise, understanding that they WILL use ChatGPT and our job is to help them use it effectively.
We’ve centered students, so let’s take a minute to center ourselves and examine how this tool might shift our own work.
But I want to do the coaching! We know that scaling services is top of mind for almost every career center, and a big part of scaling is providing access to career education content via a wide variety of channels, including social media, web content, videos, blog posts, etc. Quality content creation is time-consuming for the best of us! ChatGPTis a tool WE CAN USE to hone our content skills. We ARE subject-matter experts, after all!
What if it gives bad advice? Let’s say a student comes to meet with you with a resume crafted by ChatGPT that needs a lot of edits. Is this an unfamiliar experience for you? Likely not! Sure, some of our coaching conversations might now include pro tips for drafting prompts for ChatGPT, but the value of individualized feedback is distinct from the benefits of AI.
But I’m not an AI expert! Through its intuitive interface, ChatGPT encourages users to experiment, learn, and develop their AI skills organically. By interacting with the model in a collaborative manner, individuals can gradually enhance their understanding and proficiency in generative text, making it an approachable and accessible learning experience.
This is a new tool, and it might transform in many ways. At the moment, it is free
to access, but we also need to be aware that this kind of product can (and will) be monetized in the future. Much like other tech tools, like Grammarly and resume review tools, we will have to keep an eye on the bottom line and do our part to ensure equitable access.
While the future is uncertain, the disruptive impact of AI technologies like ChatGPT can be compared to other educational revolutions, such as the advent of the internet, the rise of Wikipedia, and the introduction of Grammarly, all of which have transformed and enhanced the learning experience by providing instant access to the vast knowledge and improving writing proficiency.
Postscript: While we’ve referred to ChatGPT primarily in this blog post, we'll be watching many other AI chatbots. One of ChatGPT's biggest competitors is GoogleBard. Check out this article for the main differences between these two tools. One particular advantage of Bard is that, unlike ChatGPT, its dataset does not end in 2021.
BONUS CONTENT: Prompt Pro Tips!
One of the most interesting learning curves in acclimating to generative AI is figuring out how to craft successful prompts! Below is a sample of the range from simple to more complex, but this is just a quick snapshot of how Bard responded to two different prompts. For more details, here is a link to a thorough blog post called "How to write the perfect ChatGPT prompt and become a Prompt writer."
Margie McGee-Newton, Creative and Content Manager, Consultant
The Career Leadership Collective
Margie McGee-Newton has twenty years of experience in higher education. She has worked with a wide variety of institutions, including the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota, Wellesley College, and DePaul University.
She is passionate about bringing sensitivity and appreciation for a user experience lens to higher education and leveraging accessible and engaging learning experiences to connect learners to meaningful and actionable content.