AI as Your Academic Ally: Leveraging GPT-4's New Features

Discover how GPT-4's latest features can revolutionize your study routine. From image-to-text transcription to advanced plugins, this blog explores how AI can enhance academic productivity and learning efficiency.

AI as Your Academic Ally: Leveraging GPT-4's New Features
Image: Quan Le

AI will never fully take the place of the intricate thought processes, the spark of creativity, or the dedication you pour into your pursuits of success. However, it can certainly streamline many tasks that might be redundant, freeing up your time to focus on the truly important tasks.

Consider the 80/20 rule: only about 20% of your daily tasks genuinely contribute to your growth and development. AI is a tool that, when used wisely and judiciously, can help you navigate through the trivial 80% and enhance the quality of the essential 20%.

Back in grade school and college, learning came quite easily to me. I kept this to myself because it might have sounded like bragging, but I always felt that schoolwork was straightforward if you just put in the time. Looking back, I realize that the most valuable lessons came not from the assignments and lectures, but from the jobs, the extracurricular activities, the competitions, the conferences, the volunteer work, and the events I participated in. That's why, when I was introduced to ChatGPT and saw how it could help me save time and boost my work productivity, I was all in.

I previously shared a video on various study techniques utilizing ChatGPT, and since then, ChatGPT Plus has rolled out a suite of impressive new features. I'm excited to demonstrate how these updates can further streamline your study and work processes.

1. Image Upload: A Snapshot to Clarity

The Default option now includes a game-changing ability to upload images and inquire about their content directly with ChatGPT. While I've seen many use this feature for object identification, my go-to application is note transcription.

Search with image is a game-changer

As someone who cherishes handwritten notes, the task of consolidating notes, PowerPoint slides, handouts, and assignments for exam study has always been daunting. And let's not even talk about the added strain when creating flashcards from these notes.

Enter the 'Chat with Images' feature: I simply take a photo of my notebook pages, and ChatGPT does the rest, transcribing and formatting my notes to mirror the original as closely as possible. Sure, there are other tools out there, but the integration within ChatGPT is seamless, allowing me to ask follow-up questions, such as organizing my notes in a logical sequence, verifying facts, or even generating a practice exam based on my notes. And now, with the mobile app, I can take a snapshot directly from my phone and revisit the conversation anytime through my web browser's history.

Snaping a photo and transcribing the note conveniently on the ChatGPT mobile app

This feature has quickly become my favorite, transforming the way I compile and review my academic materials.

2. Plugins: Your Digital Toolbox

For Plus users, plugins are a formidable asset. I recall the time when OpenAI had briefly shelved the Search with Bing feature—plugins were my lifeline to the most current information. The array of plugins is vast, each adding a robust layer of functionality to the GPT-4 experience. Here are my top picks from this impressive toolkit:

The diverse plugin store
  • VoxScript: This is like having a digital research assistant at your fingertips. Whether it's diving into YouTube transcripts or navigating the web, VoxScript is my go-to for sourcing information and pulling in references directly into our dialogue. It's a game-changer for anyone in need of quick, reliable references.
  • Wolfram: When it comes to crunching numbers or solving complex equations, the default language model can stumble. That's where Wolfram steps in, turning ChatGPT into a math whiz capable of tackling the most daunting computational queries.
  • Diagrams - Show Me: Imagine being able to create visual graphs, mind maps, and illustrations without spending hours drawing and typing. This plugin does exactly that, streamlining the process of visual learning and content creation.
A mindmap created by "Diagrams: Show Me" plugin on GPT-4

These plugins have significantly enhanced my ChatGPT experience, making it an even more powerful companion in my academic and professional endeavors.

3. DALL-E 3: The Creative Companion

DALL-E 3 arrived on the scene about a month ago, and I was eager to see what it brought to the table. My past experiences with DALL-E 2 were enjoyable, mainly for creating fun graphics and logos, but it didn't quite leave a lasting impression. Then I encountered Midjourney AI, which was genuinely impressive with its capabilities. With these experiences in mind, I approached DALL-E 3 with a bit of skepticism, wondering if it could really live up to the hype.

DALL-E 2 was no match for Midjourney

Surprisingly, DALL-E 3 has been a game-changer. It matches Midjourney AI in many ways, and while Midjourney might still have a slight edge in visual appeal, DALL-E 3 shines when it comes to incorporating text into images. I appreciate its ability to make precise adjustments based on my prompts, altering parts of an image without starting over. The integration within ChatGPT is a practical bonus, saving me the expense of another subscription.

DALLE-3 makes it possible to alter parts of an image without starting over

I've been using DALL-E 3 mainly for creating illustrations, and it's been a significant time-saver. For students in creative fields, I can see DALL-E 3 being a fantastic tool for brainstorming and visualizing ideas. And while I believe AI-generated art hasn't yet achieved the same level of sophistication as human art, DALL-E 3 certainly helps lay the groundwork for the creative process.

4. Custom Instructions: Fine-Tuning ChatGPT to Your Needs

Custom Instructions offer a way to make ChatGPT more attuned to your personal context. You can share certain details about yourself, which enables the AI to provide more nuanced and relevant responses. It's crucial, however, to be mindful of privacy—avoid divulging overly personal or sensitive information. In my use, I've shared my educational background, skill set, and career aspirations. This level of detail is practical as I'm constantly seeking opportunities to learn and advance my career. It's incredibly beneficial to have ChatGPT respond in a way that aligns with my goals, particularly when I leverage GPT-4 for job search and application assistance.

Certainly, the capabilities and utility of ChatGPT might be daunting to some, and there are those who might argue that such AI tools contribute to laziness. However, I view—and hope you might as well—ChatGPT as an instrument akin to our cars, calculators, and smartphones. It's about optimizing our finite resources, freeing up time to concentrate on more significant tasks that require critical and creative thinking, or proactive action. So, I encourage you to embrace exploration, enjoy the journey, and until next time—keep discovering!