How ChatGPT can help with learning

How ChatGPT can help with learning

Dominic Zijlstra
Dominic Zijlstra
Publish date
Apr 9, 2023
You might be skeptical of ChatGPT's ability to enhance learning, as I was - until a few weeks ago. At first glance, it might seem like a tool for generating mediocre content on demand, which could be helpful for passing writing assignments yet doesn't help you learn anything. My opinion changed when I recently realized that this way of thinking is limiting and overlooks the true potential of ChatGPT.
The real opportunity with ChatGPT lies not in its ability to generate C-grade content, but in its capacity to enhance your thinking and learning to an A+ level. By learning how to use ChatGPT effectively, you get a deep understanding of any topic or skill. This is a game-changer for your learning experience, and it's something that 95% of ChatGPT users fail to realize (not to mention those who haven’t tried ChatGPT yet).
The reason why most ChatGPT users don't fully profit from the potential of the tool is that they don't know how to use it properly. ChatGPT is great at doing but bad at thinking. Humans excel at lateral thinking, and we can use ChatGPT to enhance those abilities. Instead of relying on ChatGPT to do the thinking for us, we can use it as a tool to enhance our own thinking and learning. We can basically become Robocop, but instead of fighting crime, we fight bad grades.
Table of Contents

Popular ChatGPT Myths

Myth 1: ChatGPT will replace us and/ or dumb us down

Some people believe that AI, and specifically ChatGPT, will replace us or make us dumber… But I don’t think AI is different from any other revolutionary technology in history.
Every technology in human history has enhanced humans and enabled us to do higher-value work. The invention of the wheel enabled us to transport goods more efficiently, freeing up time to focus on high-quality tasks. The printing press enabled us to disseminate knowledge more widely, leading to the Age of Enlightenment. The personal computer enabled us to automate tedious tasks, allowing us to focus on creative pursuits.
AI is no different. ChatGPT, with its ability to generate content quickly and accurately, frees up time for us to focus on higher-value tasks like critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. It enhances our ability to do more, not less.
ChatGPT is great at doing but bad at thinking, while humans excel at lateral thinking. We can connect disparate ideas and come up with creative solutions to complex problems. ChatGPT can help us by generating content quickly, but it cannot replace us in our ability to think creatively.
AI can enhance those who want to be enhanced, and it can replace those who want to be replaced. The economic value of mediocre work goes to zero, so why not let ChatGPT take care of tedious, low-level tasks in order for us to focus on the high-level thinking at which we excel?
Embrace AI as a tool to enhance your abilities and enable you to do more, not less.

Myth 2: ChatGPT’s errors make it unsuitable for learning

While it is true that ChatGPT can make errors and provide inaccurate information, it is important to note that it can be corrected, just like a human.
First of all, ChatGPT outperforms (average) humans on several language tasks, including machine translation and summarization. So ChatGPT is more than capable of providing accurate information for learning purposes.
Of course, there will be times when ChatGPT provides incorrect information. However, there are methods to correct it. Asking ChatGPT to explain the same concept from different perspectives or roles can help to identify errors and inconsistencies. Additionally, requesting multiple sources or citations for the information helps to validate its accuracy.
Truth is: ChatGPT cannot reason in any way. All it does is pattern recognition and matching. This makes Socratic questioning (i.e. constantly asking “why” like a child”) to probe the reasoning behind its claims a helpful way to identify any gaps in its understanding and correct the errors.
It is important to remember that ChatGPT is a tool to assist learning, not a replacement for it. Just like any other tool and any human, AI has its limitations. However, with proper use and correction, it’s a valuable asset in the learning process.

Myth 3: ChatGPT is just a better Google

At first glance, ChatGPT might seem like a faster and more efficient version of Google, but this viewpoint underestimates its true potential. Quantitative improvements can often lead to qualitatively different outcomes.
For example, the transition from dial-up internet to broadband seemed like a mere increase in speed, but it ultimately revolutionized the way we consume media, work remotely, and interact with each other online.
ChatGPT's advanced language processing capabilities elevate it beyond a mere search engine, enabling nuanced interactions and a deeper understanding of complex subjects.

My 180° Change of View

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago, I’d have viewed AI, particularly ChatGPT, as a potential threat to the learning process. I believed that learning was all about encoding and retrieval practice, and outsourcing these tasks to AI seemed counterintuitive. However, my perspective changed completely when I came across the insights of Dickie Bush, who showed me how ChatGPT could be an invaluable tool for enhancing learning (or specifically, content writing) rather than replacing it.
notion image
Dickie likens ChatGPT to a personal intern that could be trained to become an army of robots, each equipped with the capacity to learn alongside you. There are countless low-level tasks that humans shouldn't be doing—tasks that Nassim Taleb refers to as the dehumanizing aspects of technology. ChatGPT can take care of these tasks, allowing you to focus on high-level thinking, following your curiosity, and having fun.
Last week, I was guest speaker in a Twitter Space with Toan Trung. That’s when I really made the connection of using ChatGPT as your intern, providing it with powerful frameworks.
Besides frameworks, it's also important to share context with ChatGPT. This includes information about what you're learning, which sources you're using, your own background, and your interests. By giving context and breaking tasks down into low-level components, you can train ChatGPT to work effectively alongside you, all while refining and iterating the process as needed.
Of course, there are still challenges to overcome when working with AI, such as ensuring the accuracy of the information it provides and maintaining the flow of thought in a conversation.
But the realization that ChatGPT itself can learn, and thereby become your learning partner has completely transformed my perspective. By leveraging the best of human brainpower alongside the capabilities of AI, we can create a powerful synergy that drives us to new heights in our learning.

How to Learn Deeply with ChatGPT

Think of ChatGPT as your hardworking intern, eager to take on tasks and complete them accurately. To make the most of its abilities, you can use a well-organized framework that breaks down complex goals into smaller, easier tasks. In this section, we'll discuss how to create such a framework, allowing you to give clear and effective instructions that bring out the best in ChatGPT.

1. Give it a framework

To optimize ChatGPT's output in a learning context, providing a framework is essential. Frameworks can be challenging for us to grasp quickly, but with ChatGPT, you can apply them quick and evaluate the results more efficiently. A well-crafted framework typically consists of a system prompt (Act As X), specific steps and rules, and things to avoid.
Incorporating ample examples and outputs throughout the process will help refine the framework and improve the quality of the output. Below are some example frameworks that can be used effectively with ChatGPT:

Basic Frameworks

Here are some examples of basic frameworks that can be utilized to guide ChatGPT's output. Each bullet point explains the purpose and benefits of each example:
  • Act as a kindergarten teacher explaining X like I'm a 5-year-old: This prompt encourages ChatGPT to provide explanations in simple language, making complex concepts easier to understand for anyone, regardless of their background knowledge. (Think: Feynman technique)
  • Rewrite this paragraph in a more formal/less formal tone/more persuasive/more humorous/more concise following the guidelines of professional writing: This framework helps adjust the tone of a text, so you can balance the level of detail and ease of understanding.
  • Summarize this explanation in 50 words or less, focusing on key points: By using this prompt, you can obtain a shorter and more focused output from ChatGPT, removing unnecessary details and making the content more accessible.
  • Rewrite as [WRITER], incorporating their writing style and techniques: This prompt enables ChatGPT to generate content in the style of a specific author or writer, allowing you to explore different writing styles, techniques and perspectives.
    • Some good writers to try here are Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling and Paul Graham
  • Adapt this content for [AUDIENCE], considering their interests, background knowledge, and preferences: This prompt guides ChatGPT to tailor its output to a specific target audience, taking into consideration their interests, background knowledge, and preferences, which helps explain something at different levels and from different angles.
    • Some example audiences are a 6-year old, a college student, a field expert or an 80-year old who reads slowly
notion image

Skill-Specific Frameworks

For more specialized tasks, you can use frameworks tailored to specific skills.
For example, you can apply writing frameworks by following the guidelines of experts like Dickie Bush.
For summarization, you can refer to the "SQ3R" method developed by Francis P. Robinson. To create a prompt based on this method, you can use the following format:
Using the SQ3R method (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review), summarize the given text.
This will give vastly more useful results than simply asking it to summarize.
Simple summary without providing a framework
Simple summary without providing a framework
Summary of the same text using the SQ3R framework
Summary of the same text using the SQ3R framework

Meta-Learning Framework

A meta-learning framework helps you learn effectively alongside ChatGPT.
First, you’ll need to tell ChatGPT how humans learn effectively. You could do this by passing it our science-based method to learn faster. However, it’s too long to fit into a single prompt. But there’s a solution for that: we can compress it in concise language that ChatGPT can understand. We’ve done that for our learning framework. You can give the following text to ChatGPT to make it understand how humans learn effectively:
this is compressed text, in your own language. you should be able to decompress it because it's in your language. here's what to decompress: 10xLrnFrmwk:6stp(1pre-stdy)➡️10x💡. Exampl:CentralDogmaBiology,MCAT🧬. 0:Pre-study:1⃣3-4main🔍2⃣Relation🔗3⃣Sub-ideas🌿4⃣PriorKnwldg🧠5⃣Ask🤔6⃣Generative🧪. 1:IngestInfo:🚫notes📝➡️1⃣Summary2⃣LongerIntervals3⃣EndOfSess4⃣Delayed5⃣DelayedMapping. 2:Encoding:MindMap🌐. 1⃣Chunking🧩2⃣KnowledgeTree🌳3⃣Linking🔗4⃣Visual🎨5⃣Flow🌊. 3:Elaborate&Test:1⃣SelfExplain🗣️2⃣Test📚3⃣Switch⚙️4⃣Mix&Mash🔀5⃣Generative🧪. 4:Organize&Review:1⃣Organize🗂️2⃣Review🔄3⃣Interval📅4⃣Tests📝5⃣Re-encode🔐. 5:Apply:1⃣RealWorld🌍2⃣BiggerPic🖼️3⃣Teach👩‍🏫4⃣Solve🔧5⃣Create🎨.
💭InfoMeaningful➡️LTM🧠. MentalModel🌐. QuestionsReflect🔍. AHA-moment🎉. Practice1Step🚶.
💾LargeInfoEncoding📚. ArtificialMeaning➡️Stick💡. MemoryPalace🏰. SpatialInfo🌌. CoherentStory📖. MultiSensual💥. IsaacNewtonGravity🍎.
Consolidation⏳. Break🛌. Retrieval🔍. TestEffect💪. ActiveRecall🧠. VariedPractice🎲. Interleaving🔀. DesirableDifficulty😅.
L1:SpacedRepetition⏲️. ActiveRecall🎯. Effortful💪. L2:Writing=Thinking✍️. Zettelkasten📝. L3:Self-explanation🗣️. FeynmanMethod🔬. L4:Teach👩‍🏫. Feedback🔄. L5:DeliberatePractice
notion image
Now ChatGPT has understood this pretty complex framework of learning effectively! We can apply this to the actual topic we’re learning by providing context:

2. Give it context

After establishing an effective framework, it's crucial to provide ChatGPT with context to ensure the output is relevant and valuable. Providing context allows ChatGPT to generate responses tailored to your specific learning goals, taking into account your background and interests.

Identify Your Learning Goals and Sources

Begin by identifying the topic you want to learn about and the sources you are using. This could include textbooks, articles, research papers, or online resources. Be sure to consider the credibility and point of view of the sources you choose, as they will shape the information you receive.
For example, if you're learning about climate change, you might provide context like this:
I'm studying climate change and its effects on the environment. I'm using resources like the IPCC reports, articles from reputable journals, and expert opinions.

Share Your Background and Interests

Next, provide ChatGPT with information about your own background and interests, as well as any relevant anecdotes. This personal context helps ChatGPT tailor the output to your level of understanding and connect the content to your prior knowledge and experiences.
For instance, you might share your background like this:
I have a basic understanding of climate science, but I'm particularly interested in learning about how climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystems. I recently read a case study about the decline of coral reefs due to ocean acidification, which piqued my curiosity.

Ask ChatGPT which context would help it generate better output

You can also directly ask ChatGPT:
What context could I provide to you that would help you generate a better answer according to the framework I’ve presented to you?
I’ve done this for the meta-learning framework, and it suggested adding things like:
  1. Learning style preferences: Share whether you prefer visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning methods. This will help ChatGPT deliver information in a way that best suits your style.
  1. Concepts you've already grasped: Inform ChatGPT about the concepts you've already understood to avoid redundant explanations and focus on building new knowledge.
  1. Specific questions or challenges: Mention any specific questions or challenges you're facing within the topic, allowing ChatGPT to address them directly and support your learning progress.
  1. Time constraints: If you have a deadline or limited time for learning, let ChatGPT know so that it can provide more focused and efficient guidance.
By providing context and incorporating context-related items, you can harness the power of ChatGPT to facilitate a personalized and effective learning experience.

3. Break it down into low-level tasks

Utilizing frameworks with ChatGPT enables you to break down complex tasks into several low-level tasks. By structuring your learning process into smaller, more manageable steps, you can delegate the execution of these tasks to ChatGPT, allowing you to focus on high-level thinking and decision-making. As a result, you can improve your understanding of complex concepts more effectively and efficiently.
When giving prompts to ChatGPT, it's helpful to add "Keeping the framework and context above in mind, …" at the beginning of each prompt. This ensures that the AI's responses are consistent with an effective learning strategy.
For example, let’s apply this to the "Encoding" step of the meta-learning framework:
Using the framework and context provided earlier, generate some questions and exercises that will help me accomplish my goal of learning how to learn faster with ChatGPT. Use the "Encoding" step in the compressed framework provided before.
notion image
Obviously, you can repeat this for any of the other steps in the meta-learning framework (or any other framework!).

4. Tweak and Repeat

As you progress through your learning journey using ChatGPT, it's essential to continually refine your prompts and experiment with different approaches. This iterative process will help you improve the quality of the output, adapt to your evolving needs, and enhance your understanding of the subject matter.
To make the most of ChatGPT, consider the following suggestions for tweaking and refining your prompts:
  1. Adjust the specificity: Sometimes, ChatGPT's output may be too general or not focused enough on your desired topic. In such cases, try making your prompts more specific or narrow down your request. For example, instead of asking for "questions related to the encoding step of the meta-learning framework," you could ask for "questions that help me practice mind mapping for the encoding step of the meta-learning framework."
  1. Clarify the context: Ensure that your prompts provide sufficient context and background information for ChatGPT to generate relevant and targeted responses. You may need to reiterate the context or reference previous sections to get the desired output. For instance, you could include a brief reminder like "Following the meta-learning framework provided earlier..." to maintain context across multiple prompts.
  1. Ask ChatGPT for guidance: If you're unsure about what information or context would be helpful for ChatGPT to generate better output, simply ask the AI for advice. You could pose questions like "What additional information can I provide you with to help you generate more accurate and useful responses related to the encoding step of the meta-learning framework?" This way, you can receive guidance on how to improve your prompts and get better results.
Remember, refining your prompts and repeating the process is key to obtaining optimal results from ChatGPT. By continually tweaking and experimenting, you'll develop a better understanding of how to effectively use the AI in your learning journey, ultimately helping you to learn faster and more efficiently.

When not to use AI

While ChatGPT can be a valuable tool in your learning journey, it's essential to recognize situations where relying on your own brainpower is more beneficial. Here are three key points to consider:
  1. The Limits of AI: ChatGPT excels at pattern recognition, but it falls short when it comes to logical reasoning, critical thinking, or mathematical problem-solving. In these instances, engaging your own cognitive abilities will lead to a deeper understanding of the material.
  1. Higher-Order Thinking: As you might recall from Bloom's Taxonomy, higher-order thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating, and creating are crucial for effective learning. While ChatGPT can provide assistance in some aspects, it's ultimately up to you to cultivate these skills and apply them to the learning process.
  1. Personal Insights and Connections: ChatGPT may not be able to fully grasp the nuances of your personal experiences or understand the unique connections you make while learning. To truly encode information and promote long-term retention, it's essential to actively relate new knowledge to your own life and experiences.
In summary, while ChatGPT can be a helpful companion in the learning process, it's important to recognize its limitations and know when to rely on your own intellectual abilities. Balancing the use of AI with active engagement in higher-order thinking and making personal connections will lead to more effective learning outcomes.


In conclusion, using ChatGPT as part of your learning process can be a powerful way to enhance your learning experience when combined with a well-rounded meta-learning framework. By providing the AI with context, breaking down complex tasks into low-level tasks, and iterating on your prompts, you can harness the best of both human and AI capabilities. Remember that ChatGPT is meant to complement, not replace, your own cognitive abilities. Embrace the process and have fun experimenting with this technology.
Your superpower lies in combining the best of human brainpower, which excels in high-level thinking and traversing complex concepts, with the pattern recognition and execution capabilities of AI, like ChatGPT.
Take the first step now and experience the synergy between human intelligence and AI: Use a dual-screen or split-screen setup, with one screen dedicated to Traverse and another for interacting with ChatGPT. Unlock new possibilities and maximize your learning potential by utilizing these powerful tools together in a well-rounded learning process.
notion image
Don't forget to share this article:
10x your learning
Improve your memory and thinking skills with our science-based method
Try Traverse Today
Try Traverse Today