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The Do’s and Don’ts of using ChatGPT

If your social media algorithm has not yet been swamped by content related to artificial intelligence (AI), consider yourself nestled in an incredibly special niche. As a graphic design student following creative content on social media, almost every post I see is related to AI. It took me until January to finally dare have a play with ChatGPT. The multitude of AI tools available is both formidable and overwhelming at the same time. Formidable because of the infinite possibilities it offers for students but overwhelming because of the dilemma it poses when you are studying, especially if you’re undertaking a creative major.  

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Is the use of ChatGPT compatible with studying? Yes, but only if you use it wisely! There’s a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t use AI to complete your assignment. First, Turnitin detects ChatGPT. Second, according to university policy, any work submitted for assessment needs to be the student’s own original work. And finally, you are paying for a degree but not learning efficiently if you let ChatGPT submit work for you. Yes, this last point may sound like your parents or Gen X teachers lecturing you but it’s true.  

With this being said, learning to use AI is inevitable and there are many productive ways that you can use AI without compromising your work. ChatGPT can be an amazing ally to your success as a student, as it offers more than just text generating. For example, you can use it to help organise your time. I have asked ChatGPT to assist me with planning my next assignments! It’s a time-consuming organisational task that I am happy to delegate to an AI. I can then tweak the results according to my needs and because I can refine my prompts as I go, I also use ChatGPT to understand complex concepts. This is a quick way to find answers and elaborate them on my own.  

ChatGPT can also help you with your research and inspiration. For example, I sometimes ask ChatGPT to produce word associations around words so I can create a mind map. This helps me greatly with my creative process, especially as a non-native English speaker! 

A meme showing a dog poking it's head through a dog flap, with the words 'Excuse me sir do you have time to talk about our saviour ChatGPT?'
El Mrabet, Yasmina. “Dog door ChatGPT”. 2023. Meme generated on imgflip.com. 

Now that we have addressed the elephant in the room, let’s move on to the 800-pound gorilla next to it. As a creative, I have been flooded by AI generated art on social media. I seriously started to worry about enrolling in a Visual Communication degree if AI generated content is making the field obsolete. So I reached out to content creators that I admire, talked to some teaching staff and asked them how they thought this would affect their careers. Simply put, there are both positive and negative perspectives to this controversy.  

For the negatives, there is a massive copyright issue: artists and designers’ work around the world is being copied without permission to generate content through platforms like Dall-E (text-to-image generating AI). Regulations are slow to change to protect intellectual property, so as a student, I need to learn to protect the designs I share online. However, Adobe Firefly shows that it is possible to create AI generated images without using copyrighted content. But there are also some positives.  When I interviewed a motion designer, she was enthusiastic about it! It surprised me but it made sense when she explained that she uses AI to get inspiration for her projects. I also talked to a commercial illustrator who told me that AI-generated images would be a good jumping point for sketches. I also spoke with a graphic designer; she rightly pointed out that most images generated by AI will follow mainstream trends but as a designer, she births her own original style.  

Digital art made by Yasmina, showing colourful abstract shapes that resemble a person wearing a graduation hat
El Mrabet, Yasmina. “Student and AI”. 2023. Digital Illustration. 

A lot of our skills and tasks are executed by AI (Google Maps, Grammarly, etc). As a student in 2023, I feel like I need to keep up with the pace of change, but without compromising my learning curve. I am fortunate that I can use AI to alleviate my mental load. ChatGPT can become your personal assistant to plan your semesters for success and jump-start your inspiration process. But while AI can be a great tool for organisation and planning, keep these final things in mind to avoid misuse: 

  • Prior permission in writing from a Course Coordinator is essential if you are thinking of using an AI tool to draft work for submission. 
  • If you’re considering using any kind of AI tool during your studies and you’re feeling unsure about it, please make sure you receive advice from your Course Coordinator. Misuse of AI tools may be considered a breach of the University’s Student Conduct Rule and could result in disciplinary action. 

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