By Robin Lucas

For me, chatbot technology has supplanted, if not replaced, Google as a search tool. When before I used Google to search for answers, I now find myself utilizing ChatGPT to have a conversation. I like how it answers my questions and provokes me to refine my thoughts, rather than just providing a string of results that require clicking back and forth to find the best answer. 

However, don’t misunderstand. I don’t take the first result of a ChatGPT response as gospel. Instead, I find it sparks further questions, helps me to refine my thinking, gets me started on a draft, or points to a concept that didn’t initially occur to me. It feeds my curiosity and inspires different ways of approaching or thinking about something. And I also find that it helps me reduce wasted time, especially when it comes to routine tasks that often caused me to procrastinate. 

The key to opening the door for me was understanding how to “engineer” my prompts to get better results. It was after I learned to put more definition around what I was asking, and to, in a sense, train the robot to better understand me, that I started to feel comfortable with experimenting. The best recommendation I can make is to learn how to write good prompts, including providing details about the persona that you want the tool you are using to take on. For example, start a prompt with “You are a learning & development practitioner who creates training programs for salespeople in the “x” industry and you need to create a program on “x.” Generate a first outline of topics for me.” Then, once you have prompt results that you have worked with, verified, and refined, I also suggest feeding that back to the same genAI tool – be it ChatGPT or some other – and ask it to evaluate your result using a salesperson learner persona. For example, you are a salesperson who is new to your job. Review this course outline and tell me what you think is missing.

If you feel lost about writing prompts, Josh Cavalier offers several options for learning how to do it better. He did a special presentation on this in 2023 to our Learning Technology Network community (you can view a recording of that session on Fredrickson’s YouTube channel). Since then, he’s expanded and refined his presentation and included more about prompt writing.

To apply my own learning, I had a conversation with ChatGPT-4o, asking it to find relevant resources that I could recommend for further exploration of prompt engineering. After applying my own learning to check the results, I would share these as potential ways for others to explore: 

  1. Coursera – Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT. This course offers a deep dive into prompt engineering with modules on different prompting strategies such as chain of thought and reactive prompting, ideal for those looking to enhance their skills in creating effective AI-driven educational content (Coursera). 
  1. Udemy – ChatGPT for Learning & Development Pros! This course promises that you’ll learn how to use ChatGPT to become more effective and create L&D content super-fast! 
  1. The 10 Best Free Prompt Engineering Course & resources for ChatGPT, Midjourney & Co. This article provides a full spectrum of resources to explore for improving your prompting and use of ChatGPT. 
  1. Intellek – Instructional Design and AI: Beginner’s Guide to Prompt Engineering for Corporate Training: This article focuses on best practices in prompt engineering specifically tailored for instructional design, making it suitable for corporate training professionals. It emphasizes clarity, alignment with learning objectives, and interactive learning activities (Intellek). 

We’d love to hear your comments on this blog. Consider sharing your reactions, adding ideas for resources to learn more about prompt engineering, or just continuing the discussion with any of us online or in person. And check back for the next post in this series, where we discuss how AI may influence and impact learning design.  

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