The ChatGPT Paradox: Is it hindering or enhancing your coding skills?

Emilie Brunet on July 7, 2023

Subject of controversial debate, ChatGPT seems to be in all the headlines lately. As a tech education company, we have tons of students reaching out with their concerns — specifically around utilizing ChatGPT in our bootcamps.

Their concerns are centred primarily around two questions:

  1. Is using ChatGPT to help them understand code considered cheating?
  2. If they are using it, will it prevent them from learning the material in the same way as students who don’t use ChatGPT?

The short answer to both questions is no. But why?

In our team meeting, our Learning Designer, Steven made the comparison between how we used to search for information by digging through index cards in the library and now we can hop on Google.

Similarly, ChatGPT is just another more advanced tool that we can utilize for learning.

There are rules though.

You can’t write out exactly what you read from a book into an essay and call it your own work and you can’t copy and paste code from webpages and claim it as your own. The same goes for ChatGPT.

You can’t pull from a bot and say that you wrote it yourself. But you can use it as a tool for learning.

Learning doesn’t need to be a “grind” ⚙️

You can go through the old route of searching things online but ChatGPT allows you to work smarter not harder.

Why dig a hole with your hands when there’s a shovel right there?

Kevin Khoury, Concordia Bootcamps’ founder, in this week’s team meeting

I asked my friend, Johannes, a Senior Developer at the German company, MediaMarkt how he thought ChatGPT was going to change things for Junior Devs. He wasn’t worried. “The advantage they actually have is a programming buddy that is there all the time.”

Leverage ChatGPT to learn better 🤓

One of the fastest ways to learn once you start working is being able to ask questions to more senior coworkers. You learn by annoying the sh*t out of them by asking them questions every few minutes. This is why “Googling” is one of the most important skills we try to teach our students in our classes — so your coworkers don’t hate you by the end of your first month 🫠

“For the next couple of years, junior devs will have an advantage in learning things faster than I ever could.”

Not sure why your code isn’t working, you can throw it into ChatGPT and ask the bot to explain it to you like you’re a toddler. And it will.

Use ChatGPT as a teacher by having it help you get to the bottom of where you went wrong and breaking it down in a way for you to understand.

Up-skill for the job market 🤝

Knowing how to use ChatGPT properly is a skill in and of itself. More and more companies are going to start demanding that candidates applying to jobs have these skills.

⬇️ Check out this job application questionnaire where they are actually asking candidates to rate their skills using ChatGPT.

(On a separate note: How are unpaid internships still legal?? 🤦)

So no, it’s not cheating to use ChatGPT.

And no it’s not going to put you at a disadvantage compared to students who learned how to code without access it.

It’s actually up-skilling you for your future career by teaching you how to adapt to new tools, search and learn on your own and ultimately become a more independent and more efficient programmer.

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About the author

Hey, I'm Emilie 👋🏻

I'm the People & Culture Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.

Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!

My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.