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Now You Can Use ChatGPT to Discover Codecademy Courses

08/21/2023
5 minutes

You already turn to ChatGPT when you need to look up some syntax, write a cover letter, or make a vacation itinerary for your upcoming PTO. And now, with the new Codecademy ChatGPT plugin, you can ask the chatbot for customized recommendations for coding courses and paths to take.

Since OpenAI announced in March that they were allowing developers to create plugins, our engineers have been eager to build something that learners can use in their coding journey. This new plugin, which is available to install now, enhances what ChatGPT is capable of by tapping into our expert programming material.

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“ChatGPT and large language models (LLMs) are really good at some things, like content generation and writing systems,” says Samantha Zerman, Product Manager at Codecademy. “But they have some real limitations in other areas, like providing up-to-date information that’s outside of its training data. With a plugin, we are able to augment ChatGPT by giving it access to our content through our API.”

Here’s how to install our ChatGPT plugin, what you can use it for, and more details about why we built this new feature.

Where you can find the Codecademy plugin for ChatGPT

If you have a ChatGPT Plus subscription, you can enable plugins in the “Settings & Beta” section of your ChatGPT account. From there, you can search for “Codecademy” in the plugin store and install our plugin. Then, when you create a new chat in ChatGPT, you can select our plugin from the dropdown menu, and start asking your coding questions.

How to install Codecademy’s ChatGPT plugin.

Right within the ChatGPT chat interface, you can ask questions about courses, languages, or documentation, and the plugin will respond with the latest information from our site — updated even down to the second.

How to use our ChatGPT plugin as you learn

The plugin has access to our course catalog, so it’s a handy way to find the exact Codecademy course or path that you should take based on your goals. For example, say you’re curious about AI, LLMs, and ChatGPT. You could frame a question to ChatGPT like, “How can I learn about how ChatGPT and other AI tools work? I have some experience with Python, and I want to take a free course.”

ChatGPT will then spit out a list of the relevant courses or paths, with a brief description about what you’ll learn and whether the course is free or paid. You can continue iterating on your prompt to narrow down your choices (a good prompt engineering practice to follow in general), and then click the links to go right to the course.

Here’s what happens when you ask the Codecademy ChatGPT plugin for JavaScript course recs.

You can also turn to our plugin when you need to quickly look up documentation on anything technical. Say you need to reference the documentation for JavaScript arrays. You can ask ChatGPT, and it’ll generate an answer, plus share links to our Docs and articles that you can click on to get more details. This is a more efficient way to get to the resources you want without having to scroll endless search engine results. (And if you’re a frequent Docs contributor, this means your submissions could be seen and utilized by more people.)

Use the ChatGPT plugin to quickly find docs and articles.

Keep in mind: The Codecademy ChatGPT plugin isn’t supposed to replace our interactive courses or community chapters with actual humans who can help your coding journey. When it comes to learning the fundamentals of programming and writing code, there’s no substitution for hands-on experience that you get from our lessons.

That said, you can have some fun chatting with the plugin. “For instance, if you ask it to write a rap song in the style of Jay-Z using Codecademy course names, it would do it,” says John Rood, Software Engineer at Codecademy who worked on the plugin. Or ask ChatGPT to recommend coding courses in the style of an Old English poem. We can’t take credit for these corny jokes; that’s just ChatGPT’s attempt at generating entertaining and creative responses.

Asking our ChatGPT plugin different types of questions can also help you hone your prompt engineering skills. “Ask it the most creative kind of question you can possibly think of if you really want to see the power of what Codecademy data fed through a large model can do,” John says. This is just the start of what we can do with our ChatGPT plugin, and we’re excited to see how learners use the tool so we can keep iterating on the technology.

What it’s like to build a ChatGPT plugin

Getting to work on the ChatGPT plugin gave our engineers an exciting opportunity to interact with cutting-edge technology. Developers have to get approval from OpenAI to build a ChatGPT plugin, which can take time, especially as interest in AI grows and the space gets crowded. “For anybody who’s looking to develop a plugin, I would suggest getting the application in as soon as possible,” Samantha says. (Wondering what it takes to make a plugin? OpenAI’s website has detailed documentation if you want to learn more about the process.)

While the technical part of building an API felt like standard software engineering, some aspects of the project were a far cry from traditional programming. For starters, you don’t have total control over what the AI system generates as output. “You can’t force it to do something, but you can try to influence it to do something,” says Andrew Graves, Software Engineer at Codecademy and the tech lead on this project. A lot of the work was figuring out how to tweak wording and prompts so that the AI would turn to our data. “It was almost a persuasive writing exercise,” he says.

The team had to think on their feet and get creative when prompts stopped working or generated responses outside of the relevant material. ChatGPT is not deterministic, but it’s not totally random either. “It was very, very unpredictable, which is quite a change from normal programming,” John says.

As learners like you start to use our ChatGPT plugin, we’ll continue thinking up different ways to utilize its capabilities. We also want to hear your feedback, and how you’re interacting with the plugin in your daily life. And if you’re feeling inspired to learn more about AI systems and tools right away, check out our new AI courses.

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