AI fear and excitement are a profitable mix for the online training industry.

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When creative AI tools like ChatGPT first came out, Autumn Melcer’s team of copywriters and graphic designers flirted with the technology, even though many of them were intimidated by it.

Melcer also had mixed feelings. But she knew it was time to get involved in a more committed relationship with artificial intelligence when she saw a competing agency describe how they used it in a blog post.

“If they’re mentioning it in their blog posts, it’s a big marketing tool for them,” said Melcer, a creative director at TrueSense Marketing, which helps nonprofits with fundraising and media campaigns. . “And so I’m like, ‘Hey, this is something we have to take advantage of as an agency.'”

Melcer said his company was already doing much of what his competitors were pointing to. But he still felt compelled to enroll in several AI training courses to get a firm grasp on how his company should approach the technology.

There was LinkedIn’s “Creative AI Skills for Creative Content,” which came as part of its paid subscription. Simplio’s “ChatGPT for Marketers, Content Creators and Social Media Managers” was $149.

“They’re everywhere,” Melcer said. “I mean, every day I get a new course advertised for me.”

Melcer estimates that he has spent more than 10 hours on multiple webinars and paid hundreds of dollars in total for them. He has a few more queues he’s excited to attend.

He said the half has been great. The other half, basically a waste.

But overall, the courses have eased his AI anxiety.

“It’s the enemy you don’t know that’s scariest, right?” Melsar said. “And that’s why we’re going this route.”

This combination of fear and excitement about artificial intelligence has been very profitable for the online “up-skilling” industry.

“In 2023, someone enrolled in Coursera. [generative] AI content every minute,” said Marnie Baker Stein, chief content officer at online learning platform Coursera. “Every minute of the year.”

Rival online training marketplace Udemy says it has more than 3 million enrollments in AI courses. It had a ChatGPT class up and running within 11 days of ChatGPT’s public debut.

Because artificial intelligence can touch every industry, the opportunities for job-specific training and retraining are essentially endless, said Coursera’s Baker Stein.

“A UX designer, or a project manager, or an attack and defense specialist in cyber security,” Beckerstein said. “All of these roles are now heavily influenced by generative AI, so the content we have in these areas is being rethought and renewed.”

It includes roles like teacher.

Jules White is an instructor for a Coursera training called “Innovative Training with ChatGPT.” He is also a professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University.

Much of what White teaches is “prompt engineering,” which is essentially the art of crafting questions and commands to get AI to do what you want.

“It’s like the most fundamentally democratizing moment in computing, where anyone can walk in and have the power of a programmer without knowing how to program,” White said.

Powerful tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney are designed to be user-friendly. So can’t you just learn by doing?

White said prompt engineering isn’t really as easy as it sounds — there are tricks and tips for learning how to interact with artificial intelligence, even if no coding is required.

Also, most of its courses are designed to get users excited about how to enhance their creativity with AI, not just how to automate tedious tasks. .

“Some people learn best through a course. And so it depends on what your learning style is, how you do it,” White said.

Rafaela Sadon, an economist at Harvard Business School, said it’s too early to judge how effective these courses might be among future-proofing workers.

AI is young, he warned. Years from now, a course like “ChatGPT for Content Creators” might sound as silly as “An Expert’s Guide to Using Your Pager.” Courses should therefore focus less on technical skills and more on broad conceptual learning.

“The risk is that you learn something now, and six months from now, it’s already obsolete,” Sadon said.

Generative AI will require more than retraining white-collar workers how to think about their jobs, he said. It will require retraining how they think about themselves. Take the example of a writer.

“As a writer, are you going to accept that ChatGPT might give you some ideas, some creative ideas, and then your role is not to come up with those ideas, it’s to make those ideas come out.” to choose or improve those provided to you. through technology?” Sadun said. “And it’s a very different way of doing things.”

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