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AI in Vocational Education and Training: the experience of a teacher

As part of the EU Eramus+ AI Pioneers project, a cross-sectoral project aiming at promoting the use and teaching of artificial intelligence (AI) in adult education and vocational training (VET) we are undertaking a series of interviews with vocational teachers and trainers and teachers in Adult Education.

This interview, undertaken in late May 2023 is with a computer science teacher from north Germany. The teacher has completed a full course of study as a computer scientist and is presently completing a doctorate degree. but has to complete a vocational teacher training course (Studienseminar in German). A German teacher presented ChatGPT at the teacher training course and showed how had developed an exercise sheet with it. The interviewee showed us a worksheet that he himself had created with ChatGPT. The difficulty, he explained lies in formulating the correct prompts. He said it was also important to keep the prompts as short as possible and to use as few technical terms as possible. ChatGPT, he said, is only as good as the prompts you enter.

The time needed to generate worksheets is determined by constantly trying out and improving the prompts until the generated worksheet comes close to one's own ideas. The worksheet never reaches 100% of one's own ideas, so the workload consists of manual adjustments of the generated result. The worksheet also often contains technical errors that have to be corrected.

The interviewee rates ChatGPT as an auxiliary tool, which is particularly good at solving the time-consuming task of thinking up numerical relations for arithmetic problems. The interviewee estimates that the time needed for a worksheet can be reduced from more than a day to a few hours.

ChatGPT cannot insert photos, these can be generated by other software, e.g.

Longer tasks can be generated, but the more complex and specialised the construct, the worse the result of ChatGPT. The worse the result, the greater the subsequent revision effort For more accurate results, it is advisable to let ChatGPT create small sections, which are then merged manually.

There is no debate about the ethical use of AI at the school so far. Many teachers are completely unfamiliar with AI-based methods. Younger teachers use AI for lesson preparation, older teachers reject it as a non-self-performing service for both students and teachers and want to ban its use. It is not openly discussed among students or teachers and the use is considered incorrect by many.

The interviewee considers the use of ChatGPT should become a regular method and be taught to both students and teachers in their training. In China, he says, students are taught how to use AI from an early age, whereas in north Germany, Word is taught at an advanced age, which is not computer science in the opinion of a computer scientist.

The interviewee considers a network around AI in education and training like the one planned by the AI Pioneers project to be enormously important and would also formulate his experiences to date as best practice.

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