My take on custom GPTs for education

Two cartoon cats in love, strolling along the Seine River in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The male cat is orange with stripes, wearing a small beret, and the female cat is white with fluffy fur, wearing a cute bow. They are holding paws, looking at each other affectionately. The scene is colorful, whimsical, and captures a romantic, charming essence of Paris.

This has been an exciting week for generative AI. On Monday 6 November 2023, OpenAI announced the launch of custom GPTs, which are essentially user-defined applets on the ChatGPT platform. Immediately, people around the world started building their own GPTs, as they were made readily available and free to all ChatGPT subscribers. It’s only been a few days since the launch, but I wanted to share my impressions of this development, as I think it opens up promising areas of potential for educators.

Before I go any further, I must point out that at the time of writing (15th November 2023), custom GPTs can only be viewed, used, and created by paying subscribers to ChatGPT, which means that if you subscribe at $20/€20 per month, you have access to GPT-4 and thus access to the GPT builder. Demand for the service has apparently been so high that OpenAI has stopped accepting new subscribers to the platform. Because only paying ChatGPT users can use them, users on the free plan can’t test your GPT, and they aren’t listed anywhere publicly.

Screenshot of Tweet by Sam Altman on high demand for GPT plus signins

What do custom GPTs do?

They are essentially task automators – they take away the extra step of formulating a prompt for a specific use case. A GPT is pre-prompted or pre-defined according to parameters set by the creator, so if you need something specific, for example, all you need to do is specify the topic and the GPT will work its „magic“ and generate a suggestion.

An example I’ve created is a Story Builder, because I’m a middle school English teacher and I often need pictures in a sequence to help students build a story in English using pictures, with the same character(s) in different situations, so I wanted to have this task automated for me. You can test it here, again if you have access to GPT-4

Story Builder GPT Screenshot
Screenshot GPT showing story and image of Fatima.

Many other people have created GPTs for a range of purposes. Here are three I’ve found:

Children’s Storybook Generator by Dan Fitzpatrick:
Photo Mentor by Aaron Schiff
Digital Escape Room Creator by Louise Jones:

Many of the ones that have been created are unprotected. With a little digging, you can find out how the user made it. Here is a screenshot to show you an example of this – asking the GPT „what are your instructions“.

Screenshot of asking for instructions for custom GPT

To „protect“ the details of your GPT, you can add text to the instructions, so that details cannot be copied. Here is information on how to do that

What’s in it for education?

I see this as a positive development for education for many reasons.

  1. Educators design learning, deliver lessons, guide students, and give them feedback to make them better learners. Our workflows contain many micro-tasks that can be easily automated. Custom GPTs are going to be a great way to work more efficiently and productively. It’s going to free up our time, so we can spend it on other aspects of our work. It will give us more room to be more creative and innovative, and it will help us think through our processes, so we can optimise them.
  2. Another advantage is that it supports many languages. Generative AI gives us the ability to use a single tool and make it multilingual instantly. It will work well in all the languages that the GPT supports (which seems to be 25 at the time of writing). This is indeed something new for education, as it is not easily possible with other digital tools. For example, you cannot just create a quiz on an online platform and have it translated immediately into another language.
  3. A bonus for me is that you can even use different languages (even in one prompt) and ChatGPT will take care of the rest. I can imagine that many people around the world in different educational contexts will be able to use your GPT even though you created it in German, Finnish, or Polish. For me, that’s a plus, so I’m excited. Here’s how I used my Story Builder, created in English, to create an image sequence for a story in French.

Again, it’s early days, so time will tell how custom GPTs will change the landscape. Eventually, they will be available for free to all users, and they will be searchable and easy to find through a so-called GPT store. Many will offer their GPTs for free. I’m excited to see where this goes, and I encourage you to use and test my GPTs and give me feedback on how they work for you.

Happy Prompting!

P.S. I watched this video to understand how to do it:

My Custom GPTs
Story Builder:
Seminar Scribe:
DGB Lesson Builder:
Digitale Grundbildung*:

* Digitale Grundbildung is a subject taught in Austria’s schools and is Foundational Media Training

Tools used in this entry
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT [Large language model]. /g/g-LHCc9R5P2-story-builder
DeepL Write

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Digitale Grundbildung 2. Klasse – meine Planung steht!

Titelblatt zum Arbeitsheft

All good things must come to an end! Und es stimmt. Der Sommer war lang und schön. Die Ferien ausgedehnt und erholsam. Aber jetzt heißt es: Back To Work! In meinem Fall, Back To School! Aber auch wenn etwas Schönes zu Ende geht, kann auch etwas Schönes beginnen und das stimmt auf jedem Fall. Ich freue mich auf die Arbeit, auf die Schule und auf die Umsetzung des neuen Faches Digitale Grundbildung in meinen Klassen. In der Folge erkläre ich meine Ansätze und Vorbereitung.

Weiterlesen: Digitale Grundbildung 2. Klasse – meine Planung steht!

Digitales Arbeitsheft in Pages am iPad

Nach vielen Überlegungen, Recherchen und Diskussionen mit Kolleg*innen habe ich beschlossen, ein digitales Arbeitsbuch für meine Klassen zu erstellen. Warum Pages? Weil die Pages-Datei Links, eingebettete Videos, bewegliche Grafiken, Tabellen, Medienplatzhalter, Bildergalerie und animierte GIFs enthält. Notizenapps am iPad gibt es viele, aber nicht viele können das alles. Außerdem es ist eine Arbeitsunterlage. Der Fokus liegt nicht auf das Notieren. Das Dokument enthält Leitfragen, Inputs der Lehrperson sowie Arbeitsbereiche und Aufträge. Ich bin gespannt welche Erfahrungen wir damit machen! Vielen lieben Dank an dieser Stelle an Elke Höfler, die Korrektur gelesen hat, sowie an vielen vielen Kolleg*innen, die Feedback gegeben haben. Hier einige Auszüge …

Die Schülerinnen und Schüler haben außerdem eine Ringmappe für Papierblätter und ein E-Portfolio in Book Creator. Mehr dazu später …

Didaktik und Pädagogik

Wichtig für mich ist es, Software von verschiedenen Herstellerfirmen zu nutzen. So sehen die Schüler*innen diverse Tools und Funktionsweisen. Das Lernen wird spielerisch und schüler*innen-zentriert sein. Forschendes und entdeckendes Lernen gehört für mich zur Normalität. Als Lernprodukte werden die Klassen eigene Fotos, Grafiken, Filme, Designs, Animationen, Audios, Präsentationen, Visualisierungen und E-Bücher erstellen. Abgaben werden durch MS Teams gemacht oder per AirDrop direkt am mich gesendet. Am Ende jedes Thema möchte ich eine Reflexion und Diskussion in der Lerngruppe führen.


Zur Beurteilung habe ich mir folgendes überlegt …

  • Aktive Mitarbeit im Unterricht
  • Vorhandensein der benötigten Arbeitsmaterialien 
  • Erfüllung und zeitgerechte Abgabe von Arbeitsaufträgen und Übungen
  • Mindestens ein Kompetenzcheck pro Semester am PC und iPad
  • Vollständiges digitales Portfolio und ordentlich geführtes digitales Heft

Dokumentation in Book Creator

Da die Kinder und Jugendlichen viele eigene Medien erstellen werden, möchte ich in diesem Jahr Book Creator als Portfolio-Tool nutzen. Das ermöglicht die Einbindung von großen Mediendateien ohne den begrenzten Speicher am iPad zu belasten. Hier im Browser öffnen …


Die Digitale Grundbildung hat in diesem Schuljahr Premiere als offizielles Fach. Daher lernen wir alle „by doing“. Ich werde berichten wie es in der Praxis funktioniert hat.

Wer in einer iPad-Klasse unterrichtet und sich das Buch ansehen möchte, kann mich gerne kontaktieren.

Learning on iPad – moving beyond pdfs and worksheets!

In my previous blog „PDFs on iPad“, I mentioned the urge that many educators feel/felt when going remote – to transplant already-known workflows from the brick-and-mortar classroom to the online or virtual setting. A common question remains – how to create an interactive worksheet with a pdf – oftentimes within a learning management software. When I read this question I think to myself, why is the default always a pdf? What are you trying to achieve? Can this be achieved using something other than a pdf? The answer is a resounding YES!

The problem with worksheets – digital or otherwise

As someone who became a teacher mid-career, worksheets were never a big part of my repertoire. I observed veteran teachers handing out sheets left, right and centre, yet I felt that this was not the way I wanted to go. I HEARTILY recommend reading of this article „Frickin‘ Packets“ by Jennifer Gonzalez and this blog post by John Spencer on choice boards and student agency, who both cemented my resolve in the past year. I am now convinced that worksheets are not the best pedagogy and I give them out only very rarely to students. If you do want my abbreviated list of personal reasons to reconsider worksheets, here they are:

  • worksheets cater to a one-size-fits-all mentality, which is not representative of the modern class with students of diverse backgrounds and abilities
  • worksheets do not traditionally cater to different learning needs or learning disabilities
  • worksheets are often handed out with solutions, which tempt students to simply copy the answer, OR they copy answers from classmates
  • worksheets generally do not allow student choice – things have to be done in the same way
  • worksheets do not foster higher order thinking skills, and are therefore limited in sustainable learning practices
  • and finally, seldom are worksheets child-friendly. They are often without images and use standard fonts and colours. Why should children be motivated to fill out a worksheet with zero aesthetic?

Simply translating worksheets in digital form e.g. via pdfs therefore, in my view and experience, does not translate innovative pedagogy. I understand that busy and overwhelmed teachers with hundreds of students feel that (pdf) worksheets are the most efficient way to go, yet I encourage them to rethink this. Remote teaching has shown how difficult it is to hand out and grade sheets. What is possible? What works in both a remote and classroom setting?

Digital workplans – integrating audio/video

Instead of worksheets, I create digital documents which are workplans. They are like a to-do list, often including explanations and demonstrations. Also, I try to give students (creative) choice. In the following example, students see a menu (like in a restaurant) and can choose whether they do A or B. Both items test their ability to apply what they know and incorporate adding video or audio, drawings or text. Download the Keynote or PowerPoint file here. For more on choice boards/learning menus, click this link.

In the example below, students „create their own zoo“, adding their choice of animals (practicing numbers, plurals, there is/are, colours). I like giving students a template and a sample solution of what the finished product looks like. This way they know what I expect. Download the blank Keynote template here.

In the digital document shown below, grammar is explained and students add their own audio/video into the examples to demonstrate their understanding.

Mind maps, concept maps, flow charts and sketchnotes

Nothing gets a student’s brain juices flowing like a task that asks him/her to create a visualisation of a concept or idea. In fact, this is one of the best ways a student can demonstrate that he/she has understood and can apply and remix the knowledge to new situations. There are many options available. You can use flow charts, mind maps (another example) or concept maps and sketchnotes to see if. Of course, this requires training students how to use these techniques. Yet the reward is that you can instantly see the learning results. With this type of exercise, students are challenged to organise, structure, analyse the idea, concept or theme and consider how best to visually communicate it. This is a different experience to simply filling gaps out on a worksheet or writing answers to set questions.

One student reports on a school field trip
Here one student reports on her day

Explainer videos

One of my favourite worksheet alternative tasks are where they create their own videos to explain or demonstrate something. As a language teacher, I want to help students develop speaking competency as best possible and so really look forward to seeing what students come up with. They work really hard to create a good finished product. Again, here the challenge is to decide what to say, when and how.

On this padlet, you can see further examples of how students explain grammar rules:

The sky is the limit with Google Slides

I’ve shown possibilities with Keynote, PowerPoint (and videos) and I have to mention Google Slides as part of this „holy trinity“ of digital tools. Google Slides is one of my favourite tools because it works speedily and reliably in a browser or mobile app and provides loads of opportunities for creative collaboration. Google Slides allows in-app inclusion of images and videos, providing unique options to create dynamic documents that allow students to provide personalised work. Using a learning journal for example allows the tracking of learning over time and helps students to organise themselves well. Here is a sample document. Create your own copy under „File“ or download. More INSANELY great templates are available from the lovely and talented Paula aka @slidesmania.

If you are completely new to digital documents, then you may be feeling overwhelmed at the possibilities which may seem like a lot of work to set up. You are right that you need to invest time to decide which option and way of working is best for you and to see how to train your students to use these alternatives. But the reward is great: engaged and motivated students and digital documents that can be documented and/or adapted and easily graded. With these options, it is easier to make students‘ own thinking visible, learning becomes personal and differentiated.

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This blog has been added to the German-language article „Arbeitsblätter ADE- Lernpfade willkommen! DAS Thema im Dezember 2020“ on

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