My Journey to Becoming an Effective Learner Using ChatGPT
Here’s how ChatGPT has helped me become a better learner.
If there’s something I learned at school and university is that we never stop learning.
While every day we learn something new, there are some people who are able to acquire new knowledge more efficiently. They’re busy people like you or me, but they can learn lots of new stuff without wasting too much time or energy.
Since the moment ChatGPT was released, I’ve been using it to become a more effective learner. In this article, I’ll show you how I use ChatGPT to manage time effectively, improve active and passive learning activities, and more.
First things first — Create a roadmap based on your needs and learning preferences
The first thing I do before learning something new is to create a study plan based on my own needs and preferences.
With ChatGPT, I only need to provide information such as my goal, time available, knowledge of the topic, learning style, and motivation to study to create a highly-customized roadmap on the subject I want to learn.
I want to study [subject]. Create a roadmap to learn [subject] for the first [X] months considering my needs and preferences below
Goal: Prioritize [topics 1, 2, 3 …]
Time available: [X] hours per day
Current knowledge: [Beginner, intermediate, advanced]
Learning Style: I’m a [visual, auditory, reading, kinesthetic] learner
Motivation: I’m learning this because […]
Currently, I’m learning German and this prompt helped create a customized roadmap for me.
After I provided this information, ChatGPT provided a roadmap that prioritizes speaking and listening skills, considering I have one hour per day and that I’m an auditory learner.
As you can see, the roadmap is focused on speaking and listening practice. In the end, it even recommends using the app Pimsleur, which offers auditory-focused lessons. I’ve tried the app and it was exactly what I was looking for!
How’s this helping me become an effective learner? By using my learning style to achieve my goals I make sure that the little time I have available for studying is well invested and that I focus on the areas I need to improve.
From this point, we’ll use ChatGPT to improve some of the active and passive learning activities shown in the learning pyramid below.
Now, there’s a lot of controversy about the learning pyramid, so I don’t want you to focus on the retention rate (% you see in the image), but on the learning activities listed in the image.
ChatGPT saves me time while doing passive learning activities
Time is a valuable asset and ChatGPT helps me better manage my time when doing passive learning activities. How? By creating summaries and providing key insight. In that way, I can filter the books, papers, videos, and articles that are worth my time.
Say I want to become better at personal finance, so I decide to read a book. After googling personal finance books and asking some friends for recommendations, I have a list of personal finance books.
How to choose the best book for me?
What I do is ask ChatGPT for the key concepts of the book. If the book has new concepts for me to learn and it’s interesting enough, I’ll buy it and read it thoroughly. However, if the book has mostly stuff I already know, I’d rather keep looking for another book.
Books aren’t the only thing ChatGPT can summarize. Thanks to plugins now we can also summarize content on the internet!
For articles, I use Link Reader. This plugin helps me summarize long articles in a few seconds. I only need to provide the link to the article to get a summary.
For videos, I use Video Insights. This plugin helps me summarize long YouTube videos so I can have a good idea of what they’re about before spending a lot of time watching them.
For research papers, I use Ask Your PDF. I only need to upload the PDF and then I get a quick summary.
Bonus: If you’re an auditory learner like me you can use a Chrome extension called Recast AI. Besides summarizing content, Recast provides an audio version of the summary. Very useful whenever you want to listen to things on the go (it’s also available as an iOS app)
ChatGPT has helped me put into practice the new stuff I learn
One of the most important things you can do to learn new stuff is to practice. Unfortunately, sometimes I didn’t have enough material to put my knowledge to the test or I didn’t have a tutor or study buddy to practice with. That’s why I came up with a prompt to overcome this problem.
Act as an expert in [subject]. You’ll start a conversation with me about [topic]. In every response, you should provide your opinion and then ask me a question to test my knowledge about this topic. The questions should have the form of a test with multiple choice questions
The other day I was reading about World War II and now I can put my knowledge to the test by turning ChatGPT into a history teacher.
If you’re a student, you can try other subjects and topics. In my experience, GPT-4 tends to create better quizzes and provides more information.
But, multiple choice questions aren’t the only thing ChatGPT is good at. If you tweak the prompt a bit, you can turn ChatGPT into your language partner to practice your foreign language skills.
When it comes to practicing my new skills, ChatGPT has helped me 24/7.
Every time I make a mistake, I ask for feedback from ChatGPT
When it comes to learning, making mistakes is good, but making the same mistake over and over again might lead us to bad habits that will be hard to get rid of in the future.
This is why asking for feedback is very important when learning new things. You can ask for feedback from a tutor, an instructor, or ChatGPT!
As a writer whose native language isn’t English, I sometimes make the same writing mistakes. Yes, I use Grammarly and it corrects most of my mistakes, but it never gives explanations or provides examples of how to use that grammar rule in a new sentence.
Fortunately, thanks to the prompt below, I can now copy the phrases Grammarly says are incorrect and paste them on ChatGPT to get an explanation of the mistake and examples.
Act as a language tutor. I’ll provide you sentences in [English] and you’ll correct them so it’s gramatically correct and the formality is neutral. You also need to provide an explanation to the correction provided and give examples.
ChatGPT reminded me why putting the “a” before “better” is incorrect in the phrase below.
I can say I’m becoming a better writer thanks to ChatGPT. If you’re not into writing you can use a similar prompt to get feedback while learning maths, a programming language, and other subjects. The sky is the limit!