Having spent over a decade in the publishing industry, I’ve seen how the transition to digital communication and systems has brought incremental changes to the age-old processes of developing educational books. My recent experiments with ChatGPT and other AI tools have led me to believe that these technologies could be a catalyst of change for publishers. I’ve tried my best to craft the perfect prompt (a written instruction to ChatGPT) to generate lesson plans, summaries, multiple-choice questions, blurbs, marketing copy, and educational content. In doing so, I’ve seen that these AI models have the potential to significantly enhance product development pipelines, thus enabling even smaller, digitally-adept teams to create textbooks and other educational materials that rival the offerings of industry leaders.
Understanding Generative AI
But first, what exactly is generative AI? These systems use large language models, trained on vast amounts of data, to generate text by predicting the likelihood of the next word given a specific context. They are sophisticated prediction machines. Responses are generated using prompts. These detailed instructions combine context, examples, data, and restrictions. With advanced language capabilities, these large language models (examples include ChatGPT, GPT-4, Claude and Bing) can impact how educational content, such as textbooks, are written and revised by assisting authors, editors, and proofreaders in automating tasks, structuring content and refining text. By automating various tasks and generating highly-customisable material, publishers can streamline their workflows and explore new business opportunities. It’s exciting times ahead for publishers willing to disrupt themselves!
The rapid rise of generative AI in the workplace also means new skills are required. Organisations must prioritise a continuous learning culture and focus on skilling employees in digital literacy, AI and data analytics. Publishers need to upskill staff to understand how to use data-driven approaches to educational content development while adapting workflows to take advantage of the efficiencies offered by generative AI. I’ve set up a personal learning pathway for myself in these areas, which I will be cascading down to my team.