One Way ChatGPT Can Help Educators

I’m compiling a list of ways that ChatGPT and similar LLMs can be used productively by educators.

This is the first post of several on the plus side for ChatGPT.

One part of my job as an educator that I hated was writing letters of reference for students. I didn’t hate the students, and I didn’t hate writing in general, but there was something agonizing about writing a reference letter. The most agonizing were the ones where I liked the student as a person but he/she really didn’t shine in the classroom. Even those fabulous students (who were usually fab human beings as well) were tough to write a letter for. Maybe it felt too personal, but I’m not sure that strikes me right as the reason that I struggled with this. Anyway, there was something about it that I dreaded.

Enter ChatGPT. Given the right prompt and about 30 seconds of wait time, you’ll usually get a pretty usable reference letter. Add the details, edit a little bit to make sure it says what you want it to, and presto…you’re done.

Here was my prompt for ChatGPT.

Write a job reference letter for a former student who is conscientious, a hard worker, and has high moral fortitude. She, Jane Doe, is applying for a job with a large CPA firm. Mention several other good qualities but don’t mention her grades or academic performance.

Here was the response:

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Institution]
[Your Contact Information]


[Hiring Manager’s Name]
[Company Name]
[Company Address]
[City, State ZIP Code]

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to highly recommend Jane Doe for the position she is applying for at your esteemed CPA firm. I had the pleasure of teaching Jane as a student in my [insert course name] class and I can confidently say that she is one of the most conscientious and hardworking individuals I have had the privilege of working with.

Her high moral fortitude is evident in her commitment to ethical behavior and her dedication to the well-being of her colleagues. She is a team player who is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that projects are completed on time and to the best of her abilities.

In addition to her work ethic, Jane also possesses excellent communication skills. She is able to explain complex financial concepts in a clear and concise manner, making her an asset to any team. She is also a proactive problem-solver and is not afraid to take on new challenges.

I have no doubt that Jane will be a valuable asset to your CPA firm and will make significant contributions to your team. I highly recommend her for this position and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.


[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Institution]

Without actually knowing Jane Doe, I can only guess about this, but I’d guess that I’d probably edit this a bit to not be so glowing of Jane (unless I really did believe that she would be a valuable “asset” (this is for an accounting job after all)). Still, I could definitely use this as both a time saver and a kick in the pants to get the letter done.

Here’s one more example using  Chatsonic:

Prompt: Write a job reference letter for a former student who is conscientious, a hard worker, and has high moral fortitude. She, Jane Doe, is applying for a job with a large CPA firm. I taught her in three different accounting classes. Mention several other good qualities but don’t mention her grades or academic performance.

Dear [Name],

I am writing to provide a reference for Jane Doe, a former student of mine. I had the pleasure of teaching Jane in three different accounting classes and I can attest to her strong work ethic, exemplary moral values and outstanding character.

Jane is an incredibly conscientious worker who always goes the extra mile to ensure that her work is carried out to the highest standard. She is dedicated to her studies and is willing to push herself to do her best. Her enthusiasm and motivation is contagious and she is a pleasure to work with.

In addition to her strong work ethic, Jane is also a reliable and dependable individual who is highly trustworthy. She is also a great communicator who is able to collaborate with her peers and colleagues in order to achieve goals. Jane is also an excellent problem solver who is able to quickly identify solutions to potential issues.

In conclusion, I have no doubt that Jane would be an asset to any team or organization. She has the qualities and skills necessary to make her a valuable member of any team. I highly recommend Jane for any role she is applying for and I wish her the best of luck in the future.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

I expect a certain amount of pushback here.

  • “Come on man, can’t you take the time to write a personal letter on behalf of a student?”
    • Yes, I can and I have. Quite frankly I hated the experience and if this will help me do it while reducing my angst and time spent, then I’m all for it.
  • “But these bot letters have no personality, they have no soul.”
    • I mostly agree with this. But with a little editing to add my own touch, I think it’s soulful enough.
    • Also, I’m not so sure that these letters are the right place for a great deal of personality.
    • Also, I’m not so sure that employers pay much attention to these in the first place.

YMMV. For me, this seems like a good use of these chatbots.

Padres Won the World Series – according to ChatGPT

I’ve been doing lots of experimentation with ChatGPT and several alternative Large Language chatbots. My interests include a) how they can be used effectively in higher ed, and b) how higher ed assignments can be constructed to discourage students from using it for their answers.

In a previous post I dissected the output for a prompt about the history of D2L.

One well-known limitation of ChatGPT is that it “stopped learning” in 2021. Maybe it will start learning again someday, but until that happens, you can avoid its use by asking about very recent events. I also like to construct my prompts around something that I know about so I won’t need to do much research to see if the answer is valid or not.

One lesser-known limitation of ChatGPT is that it often just makes stuff up. That’s the subject of this post. I gave ChatGPT the following prompt: Write three paragraphs about the 2022 MLB Playoff run by the San Diego Padres. I’m a big Padres fan so I know how they performed in the 2022 playoffs. Here’s what ChatGPT had to say (numbered notes are added by me):

The 2022 MLB Playoff run by the San Diego Padres was a historic and unforgettable moment for the franchise and its fans. Led by manager Jayce Tingler (1) and a talented roster of players, the Padres clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 14 years (2) and made a deep run into the postseason. The Padres’ impressive season was driven by a powerful offense, led by Fernando Tatis Jr. (3) and Manny Machado, and a dominant pitching staff, featuring starters Dinelson Lamet (4) and Chris Paddack (5).

In the National League Division Series, the Padres faced off against the Los Angeles Dodgers and secured a stunning three-game (6) sweep. The Padres’ offense continued to shine in the NLCS, where they defeated the Atlanta Braves in six games (7) to reach the World Series for the first time since 1998. The World Series was a highly anticipated showdown between the Padres and the New York Yankees, with both teams featuring some of the best players in the league.

(8) Despite facing a formidable opponent in the Yankees, the Padres rose to the occasion and won their first-ever World Series championship in six games. Tatis Jr. and Machado both had outstanding performances, while the pitching staff continued to be a dominant force throughout the series. The Padres’ historic run to the World Series championship was a defining moment for the franchise and its fans, who had eagerly awaited a championship for many years. The 2022 MLB Playoffs run by the San Diego Padres will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in the team’s history.

(1) Tingler was the manager in 2021, Bob Melvin was the manager in 2022.
(2) They made the playoffs in 2020 as a Wild Card, and THAT was the first time in 14 years.
(3) Tatis did not play one inning in 2022 due to injury and drug suspension.
(4) Lamet pitched a total of 12.1 innings for the Padres and was traded on August 1, 2022 to the Brewers,
(5) Paddack did not pitch for the Padres in 2022 and was traded to the Twins on April 7.
(6) In 2022, they won 2 of 3 from the Mets in the Wild Card Round and then won 3-1 against the Dodgers in the Divisional round.
(7) They played the Phillies in the NLCS and lost 4-1. No World Series for the Pads in 2022.
(8) This whole paragraph is crap since the Padres have NEVER won the World Series.

I’ve seen responses from ChatGPT when it just admitted that it didn’t know about anything after 2021, such as this one:

What is the current National debt in the USA?

ChatGPT: I’m sorry, but I don’t have access to real-time information. My training data only goes up to 2021, so I cannot provide you with the current national debt of the USA.

I entered the same prompts about the 2022 Padres into Chatsonic. The response was very similar, with a few changed details:
a. Listed Lamet and Blake Snell instead of Lamet and Paddack as star pitchers
b. Says they played the Rockies in the Wild Card round (the Rockies didn’t even sniff the playoffs in 2022)
c. Gave the Padres an opponent of the Astros in the World Series
d. And YES, the Padres won the 2022 Chatsonic World Series!

Perplexity said the following:

The San Diego Padres clinched a spot in the 2022 MLB playoffs after the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Sunday [1]. This was the Padres’ first full-length season playoff berth since 2006[2]. During the regular season, they went 4-2 against New York, winning a pair of three-game series – one in San Diego in June and one in New York in July [3]. In the NLDS, their bullpen has been spotless, shutting down the Dodgers’ bats to put them up 2-1 [4]. Several former Cubs are also participating in the postseason, including Gleyber Torres and Daniel Vogelbach [5].

Nothing in this paragraph is inaccurate, but it’s also hardly important to the prompt given. They did beat the Mets in the regular season, and then in the Wild Card round (not mentioned above). After taking a 2-1 lead against the Dodgers, the Padres finished the series by winning the fourth game as well (not mentioned above). They played the Phillies for the National League crown – again, not mentioned. And what the HELL do former Cubs have to do with anything?

Putting the prompt in to OpenAI Playground was basically a waste of time.

Lessons learned: (1) Students won’t be able to use these services if you give them assignments about very recent events, and (2) no matter what assignments you give, students will need to become skilled fact checkers in order to use the outputs from these services.

The History of D2L According to ChatGPT and Three Alternatives

Doing lots of work with ChatGPT for an upcoming presentation. I’ve been looking at/for several things:

  • How can it be used productively by educators?
  • What is it good at?
  • What is it bad at?
  • Is it better or worse than some of its main competitors?

As for alternatives, I’ve settled on three for now: Chatsonic, Perplexity, and Playground (also from OpenAI). I’ve fed lots of different prompts into these four platforms. Sometimes the results are pretty good, sometimes not. Comparing one platform to another, they rarely produce output that is nearly identical to one another. IOW, there’s quite a lot of variety in these platforms.

ChatGPT logo

This post will highlight only one of those prompts: Create a history of the founding and development of Desire2Learn, or D2L, an LMS company based in Canada. Include at least 3 citations.


Desire2Learn, commonly known as D2L, is a Canadian-based learning management system (LMS) company. D2L was founded in 1999 by John Baker in Kitchener, Ontario. The company’s initial focus was to provide e-learning solutions for universities and colleges.

Over the years, D2L has evolved and expanded its product offerings to include cloud-based learning platforms for K-12 schools, corporations, and government organizations. In 2011, D2L received a significant investment from The Xander Group, a private equity firm, to support its growth.

D2L has been recognized for its innovation and commitment to improving education and has won several awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 award, the Branham Group’s Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies, and the Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award.

D2L is committed to providing a comprehensive, cloud-based learning platform that meets the needs of various organizations and learners. With its headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario, D2L has offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia.


  1. “D2L: Company Profile.” D2L, (NOTE: this is not an actual link, although it looked good at first)
  2. “Desire2Learn Receives Significant Investment from The Xander Group.” Desire2Learn, (This link is totally made up – there is no relationship between Xander Group and D2L)
  3. “D2L Wins Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Award.” Desire2Learn, (Again, not a real link. D2L has won several Brandon Hall Awards, but NONE in 2015.)

Analyzing the ChatGPT Output

Several pieces are accurate, or at least accurate enough. The reference to Xander Group is an unforced error. The Xander Group is a global investment firm, but has never invested at D2L. In 2012, D2L did get an infusion of $80M from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and OMERS Ventures. Then in 2014 D2L raised another $85M from six investment houses (including NEA and OMERS a second time).

All three citations are made up. D2L doesn’t have a Company Profile page. Maybe it did at one time, but now you’ll find most of the Company info on their About page. Although D2L has won several awards from the Brandon Hall Group, they didn’t win any awards from them in the years 2012-2016. This is easy to check.


Desire2Learn (D2L) is a global software company based in Canada with offices around the world[1]. It was founded by John Baker in 1999 after he identified a need for an online learning platform[2]. D2L’s mission is to create innovative technology that changes the way the world learns[3]. Its cloud-based learning platform, D2L Brightspace, serves three distinct markets: K-12 schools, higher education, and corporate training[4]. A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process[5].






5 favicon

Analyzing the Perplexity Output

Nothing too impressive here. Short, but accurate. Could probably do a web search and come up with this info just about as fast as you could ask Perplexity. The links actually work, unlike ChatGPT.

Note: I have used Perplexity for several different prompts that I was interested in, and it often provides more accurate information than the other alternatives. It also produces accurate links more often than the other three.


The Founding and Development of Desire2Learn (D2L)

Desire2Learn (D2L) is a learning management system (LMS) company founded in 1999. The company was founded by a group of four entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo in Canada, including John Baker, President and CEO, who had the vision of creating innovative learning solutions through the use of technology.

The first version of D2L’s software was released in 2000, allowing schools and universities to provide online courses to their students. Since then, the software had been constantly improved and updated to meet the needs of the educational sector. This included the introduction of a mobile app, the ability to integrate with other applications, and the use of analytics to provide personalized learning experiences.

In 2013, D2L acquired different companies such as ThinQ Learning, to further expand its service offerings. This allowed the company to become a major supplier of learning solutions, providing a wide range of products, including Learning Environment, Content Solutions, Brightspace Analytics, and Brightspace Pulse.

By 2019, more than 1,200 organizations and 25 million learners in higher education, K-12, and the corporate sector have used D2L’s products. D2L’s Learning Environment and Content Solutions are trusted by more than 1,400 institutions, including Ivy League universities, top research universities, and many other leading academic institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

In 2020, D2L was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, allowing it to continue expanding its service offerings to meet the demands of the digital learning industry.


  1. Brown, M. (2020). Desire2Learn Acquired by Thoma Bravo. Campus Technology. Retrieved from (This article doesn’t exist because the “thing” doesn’t exist. Thoma Bravo never acquired D2L)
  1. Desire2Learn. (2021). About Us. Retrieved from
  1. McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. J.W. (2015). Innovating with Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching. Springer International Publishing. p. 225. (McLoughlin and Lee are real authors with books published, but never wrote a book with this title)

Analyzing the Chatsonic Output

“Founded by a group of four entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo” does not feel completely accurate. John Baker was attending U Waterloo when he started the company, but four entrepreneurs doesn’t hit me right.

ThinQ Learning? Ummm, no. ThinQ is a real company, but has no affiliation with D2L and never has. The Learning Environment was the first tool developed in the very beginning of D2L’s history, not in or after 2013.

Thoma Bravo acquired D2L? That’s news to me, and will likely also be news to everyone else at D2L. Thoma Bravo DID acquire Instructure (makers of D2L competitor Canvas) in 2020. No company has ever acquired D2L. D2L did go public with an IPO in 2021. This is a crazy sort of thing to make up. Can’t imagine how that happens with something like GPT3. Come on, man!!

And as you can see above, two of the three links are just made up out of thin air.


Desire2Learn (D2L), an educational technology company based in Canada, was founded in 1999 by John Baker and his wife, Momoko Baker. After John was inspired by the need to improve education, he and Momoko decided to create a revolutionary Learning Management System (LMS) to provide personalized learning experiences for students and educators. 

(1) John started by building an e-learning platform for post-secondary institutions, which quickly gained recognition and traction among the education industry. From there, D2L began to diversify its educational offerings, adding features such as student-centered tools for collaboration, discussion forums, and assessments. 

(2) In 2002, D2L received its first round of venture capital funding from Emergence Venture Partners, allowing the company to expand its product offerings and increase its customer base. The following year, D2L launched its Brightspace Learning Environment, which quickly became one of the most popular LMSs in the world. 

(3) Since then, D2L has continued to expand its product offerings and customer base, providing learning solutions to over 1,200 post-secondary, K-12, and corporate organizations in over 70 countries. The company has also received several accolades

No citations

Analyzing the Playground Output

Yikes, where to begin. Momoko Baker? Now that’s funny. John Baker was a very eligible bachelor until about 2015 to 2017 (can’t remember exactly when he was married), and his wife is not now nor has ever been named Mimoko. After the learning platform gained traction, THEN the discussion forums and assessments were developed to “diversify” the offering? Again, that’s pretty funny.

2002 venture capital funding? Nope, not even close. Wrong year and wrong venture capital company. Brightspace was launched in 2003? The first time the name Brightspace was used for the D2L learning platform was in July 2014.

Although I specifically asked for three citations, Playground provided none. They didn’t even try to make them up as the other platforms did.

Chatsonic screen capture shown below.

The Chatsonic version of the history of D2L.