#173: AI in Digital Course Creation: Capabilities and Limitations


Welcome back to the Digital Course Creator podcast. Today’s episode is a cautionary tale of using A.I. in your course creation process as you add a course to your business. It’s really easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding A.I.. So many people are saying that you can simply put your course idea into an AI tool like ChatGPT and get the course out of that same tool in the same day, be ready to go, and even have your video scripts written for you.

The truth is that A.I. had a lot of great capabilities, but there are some very real limitations. Does that mean simply popping your course idea into something like ChatGPT and asking it for a course is not the easy button that you’re hoping for.

The AI Hype

Have you fallen into this hype surrounding AI? I will be the first to admit that when tools like ChatGPT were unveiled, I was very skeptical and a lot of this comes from being a professor for so long.

I have been teaching about plagiarism and having your own ideas and the importance of avoiding plagiarism and creating your own ideas. So the concept of AI was something that I really resisted, and I did not even look at AI tools for the longest time. I didn’t see the point, and in the beginning, they weren’t great to begin with. And so when I did start looking,

I wasn’t impressed. I was thinking, you know what? This takes more time to try and fix what’s being given to me than it would’ve taken me to just create it from the get go on my own. So I don’t see why we should be using ai, but I recognized that, you know, a lot of people were coming out with courses on how to use ai.

They were coming out with workshops. I mean, my goodness, my Facebook feed was filled with ads for join this workshop today by this course on using AI today, and we kept seeing more and more tools integrating AI features. So I looked into it a little bit more, and I particularly looked into it from a course creation perspective. And today’s episode is all about some of the capabilities that AI tools do have.

Yes, I do use AI tools occasionally, I just don’t use them in the way that a lot of people are suggesting. So let’s talk today about some of the capabilities of AI tools, but also the limitations and some cautionary stories that I have to share with you about using AI generated content in your business.

Capability 1: Help you create a course outline

Let’s start with the first capability. You know, everyone says put your course idea into ChatGPT. I’m using that as an example because that’s the one that I use most frequently, and put it into ChatGPT, and you’ll get an entire course outline. Yes, you can absolutely do that. In fact, I did that today in preparation for this podcast. You can actually put your course idea into ChatGPT and say, Hey, I’d love for you to give me a full course outline done by module. You can even tell it how many modules you’d like, and it will say absolutely. In fact, it that’s exactly what it said to me. Absolutely exclamation point, and I got back a course outline. The key is that you have to put in the concepts, the exact ideas that you want to include in your course.

In order for that kind of prompt to work, you have to have rock solid objectives that build on one another that lead clearly to the outcome that your course is talking about. Because here’s what happens if you don’t have all of these things in place before you are going over to your favorite AI tool. I told you I went to GPT and this week I told it I’d like to create a digital course on prioritizing health and wellness as an entrepreneur.

Can you give me a good course outline? It said, absolutely, and it quickly spit out in, you know, less than 15 seconds an outline that contained 10 modules. Each of the modules I think had like three bullet points under each concept. But what I noticed in looking at this outline is that the modules didn’t really build on one another. They were pretty generic.

It’s not going to work if you, and you should have, if you have a unique framework or methodology that you are taking your clients or your students through inside your business. That got me thinking, okay, wait a minute. I know I’m gonna say it’s not going to create your unique methodology for you, but what if I put that prompt into ChatGPT and say, Hey, can you create a unique framework or methodology based on this course idea? And it said, of course, absolutely. And it came up with the WEF model, the Wellness Entrepreneur Framework, the WEF, and then it proceeded to share with me all of these steps and ideas that were part of the framework. It was confusing, it was overwhelming, it was complicated and it was not something anyone would ever be able to remember. Let me give you an example. When I talk about my unique methodology with my clients, I talk about the fact that we are taking meaningful action, we’re creating messaging alignment, and we are mastering the mindset. And those three things combined, imagine a Venn diagram, help you move toward the vision for your digital course creation business, okay? You can remember meaningful action, mindset mastery and messaging alignment. You can remember those three things.

The WEF framework that ChatGPT gave me had so many moving parts that there’s no way you would ever remember that. And if you can’t remember it, guess who else can’t remember it? Your potential students. We want them to say, oh, yeah, I know what that’s about, and be able to tell someone else about your framework or your unique methodology.

Capability one, yes, AI can absolutely produce a course outline for you. It may or may not build on itself. It may or may not have threads that tie it all together. It may or may not be built on objectives, particularly if you did what I did and said, Hey, I have this course idea, create me an outline. You have to, you have to have objectives first. You still have to follow good instructional design principles if you are going to use an AI tool to help you generate course content. You cannot just go to ChatGPT and say, Hey, build me this course and expect it to be a really rock solid course.

Capability 2: Generators ideas for clever names for your course and modules

The second capability that I want to share with you today that I see a lot of people suggesting, and this is a catch 22. So you go to ChatGPT or your favorite AI generator and say, could you give me some ideas for clever names for my courses and modules?

Now, if you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know that I’m a StoryBrand certified guide and I work with my clients to create simplified messaging because we don’t want our clients or students to have to figure out what we mean. So clever doesn’t really belong in your course name, but we all think, but it should be catchy. What’s going to be be most catchy is something that’s simple and easy to remember.

So the limitation of asking ChatGPT or an AI tool for course names, is that, A, they might end up being clever and confusing. B, it could be someone else’s course name or someone else’s module names. Remember that the way AI works is it’s pulling all of this internet data together and then parsing it, putting it together in a new way for you, but it might not be a new way, it might not be accurate, it might be someone else’s. So you might be dealing with trademark infringement, and what I’ve found honestly, is that most of the generated names for courses and modules tend to be very wordy and unclear. The number one rule for messaging in your business is clarity and simplicity and being concise.

I guess that’s three rules all rolled into one, simplicity, clarity, and conciseness. Clever is fun. It makes us smile, it makes us laugh, but it creates confusion. And if you have a child that ever watched Thomas the tank engine stuff or read those books, confusion and causes delay, right? We don’t want to cause confusion and delay when we’re trying to get someone into our course.

We don’t want them to have to think in depth about what you’re really trying to share. So if we go back to the fictional course I was telling you about, I went to ChatGPT and asked for ideas. One of the course name ideas was. “Entrewell, the Wellness Revolution for business owners”.

Now, remember, this course was about health and wellbeing for entrepreneurs who are busy, and it gave me back “Entrewell, the wellness revolution for business owners”. When you hear that title, the first word on Entrewell makes you kind of shake your head a little bit. You have to figure it out. What does that really mean? Okay? Then you get to the word revolution. Remember, my client here is a very busy entrepreneur. They are probably swamped. Their desk has sticky notes all over it. They may have notes and lists of things to do. They’re trying to add a course potentially to their business, and they’re busy. Do they want to take part in a revolution? Revolutions tend to take time. A lot of times they have complicated steps. You are doing all of the things already. Do you really want to be part of a revolution? Chances are what you really want is some simple steps to follow to make this a little bit easier.

When you’re thinking about putting into AI the prompt of asking for names of something, whether it’s your full course or modules, or maybe a masterclass that you’re running as a launch mechanism for your digital course, or even just the title of a post or a video that you might be using, just keep in mind, simplicity, clarity, be concise, all override being clever, and a lot of times what AI gives back to us is clever, so keep it simple.

Capability 3: Organize your notes into succinct summaries

Third capability. One of the things that I actually like AI for is to organize my notes into succinct summaries. This is the reason. This is one of my favorite ways to use AI because I’m putting all of my own content into the AI tool and saying, Hey, can you take this content and do something with it? Can you clean it up? Can you make it shorter? Can you give me some video ideas based on this? Could you help me script a video that is 60 seconds when I know that what I’ve just fed you is four minutes?

This is a great use for ai, putting your own content in and asking it to manipulate that content because it is yours. It is not someone else’s, so it’s not plagiarized. You’re not dealing with trademark infringement. You are getting a unique thing back that no one else is going to get because it is your content to begin with that you’re entering into the tool.

Now, the limitation here, and it’s one I struggle with and I’ll tell you a story about it, is that the voice of the summaries, the scripts and things might not match your true voice. Even if you’re putting in the content to the tool, which presumably that content is written in your voice, it may still not be quite right. You also might find that the tool is summarizing the wrong information or highlighting points that you’re thinking.

Why did it choose that? I said, there are three key elements today. You chose to talk about something else entirely, but it gives you a starting point. So if you’re thinking, oh my gosh, I have this content, I’d love just a quick summary of it, you can absolutely go to AI and say, here’s my content. Give me a three sentence summary.

Just know that you’re going to be spending some time revising and editing, and for some people that revising and editing takes less time than simply doing it yourself. For some people, the revising and editing is so much harder than just doing it yourself. So you have to judge for you, where is your time best spent? Is it just simply writing that summary for yourself or writing that script or whatever it is that you’re putting your content into AI for, or is it best served? Is your time best used in revising and editing what the AI tool generates for you? Now, here’s the story I promised you. I have broken chat GBT more than once. In fact, yes, I mean broken. I broke it. It stopped working. One time I asked chat GPT for a summary of a longer article that I had written.

I do this frequently and I’ve gotten pretty good about telling it my voice, what I want to highlight. All of these things I add in caveats galore. Well, in this case, what I got back, the first version was an absolute mess. It highlighted the wrong concepts. It didn’t sound like me despite giving it all those clear instructions. The length wasn’t what I asked for.

I think I asked for four sentences and it gave me 10 or 12. It didn’t obey any of the commands that I gave it, and so I politely, I always use please and thank you with any AI tool. I politely asked for adjustments, and I asked for specific things. And once again, the summary missed the mark, wildly missed the mark.

I asked for more adjustments, and I kept going through this for several minutes, and you might think I’m lying, but my husband was actually standing right there and watching me do this, and he was even giving me ideas of what to put in because he and AI get along really well. I’m the one that broke AI. Okay, so finally ChatGPT came back and said, I’m sorry, I cannot help you. I broke it. It said, no more. I’m not trying. I give up. So it reminds us that AI is good to get you in the ballpark, but it is not your final product. Okay? And this goes with written things, it goes with video clips, it goes with AI generated images.

It’s a great start, but it’s not the end all and be all that. I think when AI first came out, we all wanted it to be, and I share these ideas with you today because it’s important to remember that there’s no easy button in digital course creation. Even when you’ve been in business for years, when you have your messaging down pat, when you know exactly who your ideal clients are, and you’re simply saying, I want to add a new revenue stream. I’m going to add a digital course. AI is not an easy button.

AI is not going to take into account instructional design principles. It’s not going to take into account user experience in the digital course setting. It’s not going to take into account accessibility of the content or how to engage different types of learners.

It is a starting point. It has lots of great capabilities. I shared with you three ideas today of things that it can do. I also shared with you the limitations. Anytime you’re going into an AI tool, I just want you to keep your eyes open to the fact that what it’s creating is not perfect. And it’s not that we need perfection in business, right? Perfection is often procrastination in disguise, but we do need it to be us. We need to show up genuinely and authentically. And if you’re not editing your AI content, then you’re not showing up as you

Action Item

To give you an opportunity to test out AI this week, I want you to put your course idea into your favorite AI tool and ask for course objectives, a course outline, and a course title. Then look at it with a critical eye and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are the objectives specific, measurable, attainable, and leading to the overall course promise?
  2. Is the outline devised in a way that builds or flows from topic to topic with ease? For example, could you say something like, “In the last module we talked about nutrition, the ins and outs of eating whole foods on a tight schedule, and even what to do when you are up late working on a proposal and need a snack. That brings us to those late nights and early mornings. Nutrition will only take you so far as an entrepreneur, you also need to be getting quality sleep each night. In this module we will talk about what that means, how much sleep is really necessary, and ways to shut down at night so that you get the rest you need to be productive the next day.” You can see how the topic leads into the next with ease.
  3. When you are looking at course titles, would someone who doesn’t know you, know what your course is about? For example, Justin Welsh just launched the Creator MBA to his wait list. That course title is exceptionally clear. We know that this is about building a business as a creator. What about the titles that you got?


All right, how are you feeling about what we just talked about? I know AI is a very polarizing topic. It is truly a great tool. It’s a great addition to our toolbox, but it isn’t the end all and be all in your business. You can absolutely run a successful digital course creation business without using AI at all.

In fact, there are whole weeks that I go by without using any kind of ai. The AI that I do typically use is to pull little clips outta videos because it’s simple. Or I might say, here’s the post that I want to make. Here’s all of the content. Can you just clean it up and maybe put some emojis in it? You know, I’m using AI in a way that’s taking my content and simplifying my task list because I’m using my exact content. AI can help you organize your notes. It can help you create the start of a course outline. It can give you ideas for course titles. What it really excels at doing AI is getting your creative juices flowing so that your inner wisdom, your expertise, your experience can come through. Sometimes we get brain locked. We sit down to write the course title, and despite having 18 templates in front of us, we just can’t hit on the right thing. But putting something into an AI tool might make you go, well, I know I don’t want Entrewell, or, whoa, that was a great word.

Okay, I like that one word. Let me incorporate that into my title. I would never have thought of it, but it makes sense. AI isn’t going to write your course for you. It’s not going to create your course. It’s not going to create video scripts that are the end all and be all that can be implemented straight out of the AI tool.

It’s not going to tell you about the flow of your course. Content is not going to tell you about how to make everything accessible for your students. It’s not going to help you figure out what’s working for your students and what isn’t working so that you can make adjustments to the materials that you’ve created, but it can help you get the creative juices flowing.

It can help you get some ideas for how to summarize things. It can help you start thinking about the big picture. What might a course outline look like? You just can’t rely on it. Okay. I’d love to know how you use AI in your business, what limitations you’ve come across, and if you’ve ever broken chat GPT like I did, because I’ve now done that twice in the past seven months.

Let me know if you have managed to make ChatGPT, kind of wave the white flag and say, Nope, I’m done. I can’t help you anymore, and I hope that you’ll join me next week as we talk about how to create and refine course content for maximum impact and results for your students so that they walk away happy, they walk away having fulfilled that course promise.

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