Artificial Intelligence (using Google Bard)

Over the last year, artificial intelligence has become one of the most talked about topics in education. While some have embraced it, others fear it and there is a general consensus that all teachers are worried about – where is this going to lead in terms of teaching, learning and assessment?

Artificial intelligence is here to stay, so there are only two options – do we embrace it and use it positively, or do we “ban” it’s use? Firstly, if we “ban” it, that doesn’t necessarily mean students will not use it. They may have already used in via SnapChat AI Bot. Secondly, showing examples of how it can be used positively might influence student future use of AI.

Over the last few months, I have been exploring Google Bard (Google’s version of AI). This is an AI platform similar to that of ChatGPT. Similarly, it asks for prompts and displays information requested based on the prompts. It shows different draft versions of information requested, so the user can decide which suits best.

Google Bard Platform

Tips for Using Google Bard:

  • Google Bard is fantastic for the generation of ideas. These could range from lesson plan ideas to differentiation of work for AEN students. 
  • Google Bard can be very useful for EAL students and translating documents on request. It may prove easier to use than Google Translate or other translating applications.
  • Google Bard (and AI in general) is useful for differentiating work for students, or selecting themes or generation of ideas and concepts.
  • Make your prompts specific. I would advise to use ages when using prompts, as opposed to specific year groups of students as it is more universally designed than for use in Irish education alone.
  • Paraphrasing – it can be useful for paraphrasing text to make it more age appropriate for students, particularly to explain difficult concepts, for example, pollen grain development in Plant Reproduction in Leaving Cert Biology.

There is a danger and a real fear that teachers have relating to AI – the generation of work that is not written by students themselves. Can we prevent this? Maybe not. However, as professionals, I think we would know our own students’ ability levels and if they produced AI-generated work, we may be able to spot this – but perhaps not always.

Last month, fears of artificial intelligence forced Minister Norma Foley to abandon a shake up of Leaving Cert assessments. In this Irish Independent article, there is a clear threat to academic integrity in terms of using artificial intelligence. With the increased emphasis in project coursework for Leaving Cert assessment, there is a real risk that student mis-use of AI could threaten the integrity of such projects, in my opinion.

If we want students to be exposed to AI positively, we must use AI positively and show best practice. I would be against simply using AI to complete pieces of work, or assignments, or projects. AI should be used as an additional aid to support the learning process, rather than producing work. There is a danger and a real fear that teachers have relating to AI – the generation of work that is not written by students themselves. 

So how do we embrace AI or use it positively? Sir Anthony Seldon has led an “AI in Education” initiative in the UK to help embrace AI. It does recognise the risks involved, but also highlights the gains once the risks have been addressed and understood. It seems like a fantastic resource for teachers to use.

AI in Education – UK initiative

Despite the fear and unknown future path, I really like using AI for the above reasons I mentioned. Google Bard is a fantastic user-friendly platform that teachers and students can explore. Google is expanding their AI in the coming months with a new generative AI which can allow users to create images.

For more information, see here. For more information on how Google Bard works, please see the YouTube link below.

Thank you!

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