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“Children use AI whether we like it or not”

“You use Google Translate for your Irish homework – you know that straight away.”

Deirdre O’Toole, INTO Delegate, Navan Branch

“AI is very useful for teachers and they are smart enough to know how to use it. But for children, and especially those outside of school, it’s a different story. I started teaching 20 years ago and the kids working on projects used encyclopedias. Then Wikipedia came into being and we saw them copying directly from it.

“If you give them project work now, you can be sure that they will use ChatGPT. They also use Google Translate for their Irish homework – and you know it straight away. When you tell them, their faces contort. ‘How did you know?’

“We can try to explain to the kids and parents why it’s not helpful for them, but the parents who are listening are the ones who might not use it anyway.”

“Some students copy and paste answers.”

Leon Darby, ASTI Delegate, Clondalkin, Dublin

“I’m an English teacher and use it for planning – it’s great for creating resources such as graded questions for weaker or more able students. For example, questions can be created based on a novel and you take what you like and adapt it to your own class. You can also use it for EAL [English as an additional language] Students.

“However, confusion does occur, so you have to check it carefully. One danger for students is that many do not evaluate what they get from ChatGPT. If students can learn to use it responsibly, then they will have happy days. However, some students who just copy and paste an answer without even reading it will find themselves deficient in the upcoming exam.”

“Children use AI all the time, whether we like it or not”

Dorothy McGinley, INTO President

“AI is more of a problem in secondary school, but it is making its way into our primary system. Children use AI all the time – whether we like it or not – although recent developments represent progress.

“Teachers must and will use AI, but we need ongoing professional development [CPD] around it. In fact, as a union we will always welcome change if there is adequate training and development. And if appropriate mechanisms and support are put in place, AI will also benefit children.”

“I use it in my classes…it’s a help”

Siobhán O’Carroll, ASTI Delegate, Dublin South West

“I use it in my English classes. I will ask it to generate questions on a topic; It’s a help and I’m inspired by it. For example, last year we did Hamlet, so I asked ChatGPT to give me short tests, like 10 questions on act one, scene three. You must always check them.

“The downside is that the work comes back from the students – you see them using vocabulary that is not in their area of ​​expertise. You can see that in her work. Is that good or bad? It depends on. Are they expanding their vocabulary and learning in the process? It’s a subjective area.”

“It will change the way we teach”

Violeta Morari, TUI Delegate, Munster Technological University, Cork

“I think it’s both an opportunity and a threat. It will change the way we teach and it will change the way we assess. And the question is how to teach the next generation to deal with it ethically. And how do we ensure that they are actually qualified and that the degrees are actually worth anything?

“At the third level, we need resources, we need policies, we need to think a lot about what both students and staff can do. How we judge students in the future is a very complicated thing because the days of giving them 5,000 word essays are over.”

“This saves a lot of legwork”

Ursula O’Connor, Mulroy College, Milford

“It’s definitely a help. A third of us already use it to prepare lessons. You can do great things in certain subjects and adapt worksheets to situations where you may have learners of different abilities in the class. This saves us a lot of legwork and we definitely see it as a help, but the Irish landscape is changing and the growth of AI is exponential so there is a need for guidance.

“That doesn’t mean I see it as a threat. I don’t think it could ever replace human interaction in the classroom. The fact that you see the students aged 12 to 18, know their background and know where they want to go. An algorithm isn’t going to give them what that human contact can.”

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