AI as personal tutor

October 31, 2023 in Exploration

Like a lot of folks, I’ve been using ChatGPT quite a bit recently, experimenting and playing around to see what it can do. This is partly from wanting an awareness of its capabilities and an understanding of its potential impact on what I do for a living. But primarily, it’s because I am curious and suspect it’s going to offer me ways to superpower my own creativity.

Despite my motivations though, I’ve not really felt inspired with a specific use case beyond the odd open question to see what it’s capable of, or getting it to write the odd line of JavaScript for me, and have found that one way or another it hasn’t hugely helped me.

Or at least it hadn’t until I saw this great suggestion from Alex Wang, on LinkedIn of all places. The approach essentially uses ChatGPT to create a personalised learning roadmap for a subject of your choice, based on the 80/20 principle. Below is the template this follows and sample prompts which can be used directly in ChatGPT, based on a topic of your choice.

Example prompts

Prompt 1

I want to learn about [insert topic].

Based on the 80/20 Principle, please share the most crucial 20% of information that will give me a solid understanding of 80% of the subject.

Prompt 2

Based on this crucial 20% of information, please create a 30-day learning roadmap for me, including the subtopics that I need to learn.

I’ve since gone on to try this out for a variety of different subjects and found it to be a really potent way to get started with learning something new.

For example, I’ve wanted to learn Unity for a while, to be able to do rich prototyping for mobile/web apps and games, but I’ve never really got over the initial steep learning curve and need to install software and dependencies to get going.

But having since taken the approach outlined above (and applying it to a game idea I’ve had floating around since forever), ChatGPT gave me the following starter for ten, which has been hugely helpful…

A screenshot from ChatGPT showing my first prompt
A screenshot from ChatGPT showing my second prompt

While I’ve not necessarily followed the entirety of the course structure over the period of time specified, this approach has blown away the blockers for me and got me to a point very quickly where I can move forward. It’s exposed me to a lot of the edges and ‘unknown unknowns’, which has massively sped up my ability to learn and helps gives me cues as to what to ask next.

A short term outcome

Off the back of this, in the space of a few hours I’ve learnt the core Unity concepts and with ChatGPT’s help and C# code suggestions have managed to get a barebones iOS ‘game’ up and running on my device as seen below.

OK, it’s not really a game (yet), but it’s a proper start and it’s actually running on my iPhone. I’m really excited to see where I can take it next.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn that might benefit from this sort of approach? If so, I’d love to hear how you get on if you end up trying it out.