In an ever-evolving digital landscape, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping the realm of technical communication almost daily, so it’s exciting to share these advances with students in our new online course, Using AI for Technical Writing.

In my ‘day job’ as an Instructional Writer and Designer at PathWise Solutions Inc., I’ve incorporated AI into my workflow, and it has quickly become a ’go to’ tool in my writing toolbox. By automating routine tasks and enhancing the brainstorming process, AI frees me up to focus on the more creative and nuanced aspects of my work, thereby elevating the quality and scope of my writing. As a company, PathWise is leveraging AI to enhance our custom eLearning courses and web development projects by using it to develop learner-support tools, conduct analysis and research tasks, automate certain project management processes, and more.

“In my experience as a writer, AI has become my valued, creative ‘co-pilot’ and writer’s assistant.” -Geraldine Eliot

Using AI for Technical Writing Course Design: Flexibility and Relevance

XCOM 3110: Using AI for Technical Writing is an online asynchronous course which is an elective in both the Technical Writing Associate Certificate and the Technical Communication Essentials Microcredential, and is also offered as a standalone badge. This structure accommodates diverse learning preferences, enabling participants to engage with AI in a way that’s relevant to their needs.

The course centres on the effective use of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT for technical writing. These advanced systems are capable of processing and generating text that’s remarkably similar to human writers within seconds, marking a significant leap in how we can approach content creation. At the heart of interacting with LLMs is the art of crafting prompts. Our course delves into what prompts are and how they guide AI to produce desired outcomes. Understanding this is crucial for leveraging AI’s full potential in tech writing.

What AI Can’t Do

Despite its advanced algorithms, speed, and learning capabilities, AI still struggles with deep contextual understanding and critical thinking – skills that are intrinsic to human cognition. While AI can generate content based on patterns it has learned from vast datasets, it lacks the ability to truly comprehend context or think in the way humans do. While AI can assist in problem-solving based on existing data, it often falls short in situations that are entirely novel or require out-of-the-box thinking.

AI also doesn’t possess personal values or ethics; it operates solely based on the data it has been trained on. Therefore, it struggles with decisions that involve ethical considerations or moral reasoning. AI has challenges, too, with what’s known as “hallucinations.” This refers to instances where the AI generates false, misleading, or entirely fictitious content. This phenomenon is not due to intentional deception but rather a byproduct of how the AI processes and generates data. Human fact-checking is essential.

Integrating AI into a Technical Writing Career

I can’t emphasize enough that the fact that AI is here to stay is an opportunity for writers, not a threat. AI is a collaborator and adjunct to our work, not a competitor or replacement. In my experience as a writer, AI has become my valued, creative ‘co-pilot’ and writer’s assistant.

Using AI for Technical Writing bridges the gap between current technical writing practices and the evolving AI landscape. Whether you’re looking to enhance your skills or pivot your career, this online course is an investment in a future where AI and human creativity collaborate to produce exceptional technical content.