ChatGPT and other generative AI offer plenty of opportunities to develop your understanding of Media Studies and the theoretical framework if you know how to use it effectively. Generative AI is artificial intelligence that is able to create text, images or video content. Rather than using this software to “do the work”, which won’t help you prepare for exams, you can utilise these digital tools to create personalised content to support your revision and develop your media studies knowledge.
Tip 1 – Be specific (but not too specific)
ChatGPT can be great for creating summaries of theories or concepts you find difficult. For example, if you were struggling to understand the concept of hyperreality, you can simply go down the route of asking it to explain the concept. Here is ChatGPT’s response to the fairly vague query “What is hyperreality”?
This response is quite clear and concise, but you might also tell ChatGPT to explain the concept in relation to media studies and the answer could be enough to secure your understanding of Baudrillard’s complex concept of hyperreality.
But what if your problem relates to a Close Study Product? For example, if you wanted to deepen your understanding of how hyperreality applies to the Sephora advert, you can’t ask ChatGPT directly because the software is limited to the description of events and products before 2021. It may not even know what media product you are referring to unless it’s a film, popular television show or game.
Instead, you can instruct ChatGPT to apply the theory to the more general realm of moving image adverts and specify how you want the contented to be presented. Here is the response to “How would I apply the concept of hyperreality to TV adverts? Give me five bullet points”:
Rather than a long, vague explanation, you now have a set of bullet points you can apply to the Sephora advert to help your understanding of the message being encoded in the text. For example, you could explore the use of simulated environments and the idealised representations of family and friendship. Does the hyperreal representation of the beauty salon carry powerful connotations which appeal to the audience’s desire for personal relationships?
Asking specific queries of generative AI is a skill that is likely to become increasingly important to master in the near future.
The best part of generative AI is how surprisingly creative it can be with the right prompts. You can use ChatGPT to generate tasks to test your understanding of a concept or media form. Continuing with the hyperreality conversation from earlier, here is a response to the query “Create five comprehension questions on the bullet points you just created”:
In a single chat with a generative AI, it will remember previous prompts and answers, so you can treat it like a conversation. You can even ask it to change the difficulty of a task for you. Here is the response for “Make the questions slightly easier for me”:
This doesn’t just apply to ChatGTP’s answers and replies. You can copy and paste text into the chat and then ask the AI to create something based on that content. For example, I have copied and pasted the text from the Sephora page on this website and asked the query “Create ten multiple choice questions on this text”:
It automatically supplied the answers:
Utilising this type of activity allows you to generate incredible revision sources that are completely tailored to the specific parts of the course you want to revise. Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping ChatGPT already knows the information you need to learn, it’s a good idea to give the AI a bunch of content to generate tasks or resources. The AI won’t naturally know specifics about the CSPs, so give it the information it needs and then tell it what to do with it.
There’s an old saying in the tech world: “Computers don’t always do what you want, but they always do what you ask”. To get the most out of AI, you need to be very clear in how you want information to be presented. You can ask all sorts of requests to see what something like ChatGPT can do with the resource. Try asking it anything – you can’t break it. Be as demanding as you want and it will always attempt to meet your every request (not always successfully).
Using the Sephora page again, I asked “Create ten bullet points summarising this content, and provide definitions for any difficult words”.
I might also be as specific as saying: “Create ideas for ten flashcards for this content”.
This is a good example of how the AI uses your interactions to generate personalised content, and is willing to cater to your every whim.
Using generative AI properly is not a passive process. You need to actively think about and engage with the content it is creating. Simply asking ChatGPT to “do the work” for you will not benefit you at all. Create tasks for yourself, ask the AI to make those tasks more challenging if they are too easy, generate ideas for things you can go off and create yourself (like flashcards), or give the AI some information and ask it to quiz you.
Here is the response to the query, “Ask me a question about the media theories in the content I pasted earlier”:
This is so much better than just typing in a question my teacher has asked, or copying and pasting huge blocks of text summarising theories that you are going to simply read over and over again. Using AI actively and creating tasks for yourself is a great way to revise and practise your writing independently.
Generative AI provides students fantastic opportunities to personalise our learning experience, but it is also fraught with dangers. Generative AI can, and does, create content that could be biased, out of date, incorrect or offensive. Always double check and read over anything generated by AI in order to make sure it is correct.
You should never copy and paste something generated by AI and present it as your own work. AI is not a replacement for a classroom teacher, and should not be seen as something you can use to teach you an entire course of study. It’s always a good idea to ask your teacher to read over anything created by an AI, or the work that you create as a result of using AI to generate tasks, such as your flashcards or your written responses.
Don’t treat AI as an educator that will tell you the answers. Instead, treat it like a tool that exists to help you develop your understanding and supplement your learning.
Ted Lamb is the Subject Leader of Media Studies in The Belvedere Academy in Liverpool.