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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Enhancing Adult Education with Ethical AI: Using with Students

by Susan Gaer, Subject Matter Expert, OTAN

Introduction: In the January article, "Streamline Planning with AI: Craft Custom Lessons," Susan Coulter detailed how teachers can harness the power of AI through platforms like Chat GPT and Google Gemini (formerly Bard) to streamline their lesson planning. However, the transformative potential of AI in education extends beyond the classroom. In this article, we will explore how adult education students can ethically and responsibly leverage AI to enhance their language and content development.

We will delve into various facets of utilizing AI for adult education, with a focus on writing, using images, vocabulary development, and reading improvement. But before we dive into these sections, let's compare two prominent LLM (Large Language Models) tools: Chat GPT and Gemini.

Chat GPT vs. Gemini: The choice between Chat GPT and Gemini largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. These two LLMs differ primarily in their data sources and accessibility.

  1. Data Source:
    • Gemini: This AI platform continually retrieves information from the internet, ensuring it remains up-to-date with the latest information and research. It thrives on real-time data, making it a valuable resource for staying current with emerging trends.
    • Chat GPT: In contrast, Chat GPT relies on data up to January 2022. While it boasts a wealth of knowledge, it may not have the most recent updates or research findings. This limitation is essential to consider when seeking the latest information.
  2. Accessibility:
    • Gemini: To access Gemini, students must have a Gmail account. While this might be a minor inconvenience for some, it offers the advantage of personalized access control.
    • Chat GPT: Chat GPT is accessible to all users with a straightforward account creation process. It prioritizes inclusivity and ease of use, allowing a wide range of individuals to tap into its capabilities. There is also a mobile app that allows you to speak and respond.

Before proceeding with your AI-powered educational activities, we recommend reviewing both Chat GPT and Gemini to assess how their data sources align with your objectives. The choice between these platforms can significantly impact the quality and relevance of the content you generate.

Now, let's explore the ways in which adult education students can leverage AI ethically and responsibly to enhance their language and content development.

Section 1: Writing Proficiency

One of the most significant advantages of using AI in adult education is its ability to assist students in improving their writing skills. Here are some ethical and responsible ways to utilize AI for writing proficiency:

AI-Powered Writing Assistants:

AI-powered writing assistants, such as Chat GPT and Gemini, can provide valuable support by:

  • Offering grammar and spelling suggestions.
  • Providing sentence structure recommendations.
  • Assisting in generating ideas and content for essays, reports, and assignments.
  • Helping learners practice and refine their writing through interactive prompts.

By incorporating AI into their writing process, adult education students can enhance the quality of their written work while developing valuable writing skills.

One of my favorite activities is to have students ask both Gemini and Chat GPT to help them brainstorm ideas for a writing topic. In this case I asked for help writing a paper on the issue of plastics. The exact prompt I used for both was: “I need to write a250 word paper on the overuse plastics. Please help me brainstorm to give me some ideas what to write. Please give me ideas for an academic paper.”

Chat GPTand Gemini gave me a complete outline. This was not exactly what I asked for. I wanted topics. I can tweak this by telling Chat GPT and Gemini to give me only topics. I refined it by tweaking with the following prompt: “Please only give me ideas. I do not want an outline.”

See Figures 1 and 2

Figure 1
ChatGPT outline of ideas and topics for a 250-word academic paper on the overuse of plastics

Figure 2
Revised ChatGPT list of ideas for an academic paper on the overuse of plastics

This activity not only helps the students see how to start an essay on the topic, but also had the students use critical thinking skills to narrow down what information they needed. This would be a great activity to demonstrate in the classroom before having the students try it out.

Section 2: Vocabulary Development

Expanding one's vocabulary is essential for effective communication and comprehension. AI can play a role in vocabulary development:

Language Enrichment:

  • Use AI-based language learning apps and platforms to learn new words, idioms, and phrases.
  • Engage in AI-guided language exercises and quizzes to reinforce vocabulary acquisition.

AI can make vocabulary building engaging and accessible, enabling students to broaden their linguistic horizons.

Adult students can increase their vocabulary by asking for sample sentences, collocations and words in a passage. For example, I gave Gemini a list of vocabulary words from a reading. I asked for collocations, sample sentences and a multiple-choice quiz using the words. Here is the prompt:

“Please create a worksheet for the following vocabulary words. Give me definitions, sample sentences and collocations. Next create a worksheet for me to practice and finally create a quiz to test my knowledge. Here are the five vocabulary words: inspire, defeat, influence, naughty and empower.”

See figures 3 and 4 for the results

Figure 3
ChatGPT Vocabulary Worksheet with Definitions, Sample Sentences, and Collocations for the words inspire, defeat, influence, naughty, and empower

Figure 4
ChatGPT Vocabulary Practice Worksheet, Quiz, and Bonus section for the words inspire, defeat, influence, naughty, and empower

To create more critical thinking on the part of the student. Have the student choose the five new words from the passage. Have them create the prompt and then complete the worksheet and the quiz.

Section 3: Reading Enhancement

Reading is a fundamental skill in adult education. AI can assist in this area as well:

Text Summarization: AI can summarize any text for any reading level. Using my Chat GPT app on the phone I inputted a PDF of Malala Yousafzai. I asked the phone to read it to me slowly, which the phone did. Then I asked for a summary at the low beginning and low intermediate levels and received differentiated materials. See figures 5 and 6

Figure 5
ChatGPT summary suitable for a Beginning Reading level

Figure 6
ChatGPT summary suitable for an Intermediate Reading level

Section 4: Using Images Effectively

One of the most interesting ways that students can use AI is in image generation. There are four ways for students to create images.


Allows you to have three Padlet boards for free. If you want more than that you must pay 99.99 per year. The free account allows you to have as many posts as you like. You can delete old boards and create new ones for free as long as you don’t go over the 3 boards.

How does it work?

  1. The teacher creates an empty board. Personalize the title and look of your Padlet I the settings panel. Consider a title that encourages students to post. Be sure to share the Padlet with your students. Use the shareable link or the QR Code in the share panel. That panel is on the far-right top button that looks like an arrow. (fig 7)
  2. You can take a look at mine at Padlet
    Figure 7
    This is an empty Padlet board with a pink plus sign in the bottom right hand corner
  3. Click on the pink plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner. (fig 8). This will pull up a list of choices. Click on the pink one at the far right with the 3 dots.
    Figure 8
    A screenshot of the choices after clicking on the pink plus sign
  4. Clicking on the three dots will bring up a second menu (fig 9) where you can see “I can’t draw”.
    Figure 9
    A screenshot of what you see after you click on the three dots
  5. Click on I can’t draw, and you will be in the Padlet image generator. Now the student is ready to describe an image. Here is the prompt I will be using throughout this article.

“I am looking for a realistic picture of a group of adult students. The students should be of diverse cultures such as black, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim and white. They should be working in a group with diverse media. There should be laptops, ipads, phones, books, and calculator.”

Figure 10 are the images Padlet gave me. As you can see there is a diverse group of students, and I would probably use the photo on the top row far right. If you click on the picture it will be placed on your Padlet board.

Figure 10
Six photos created by the Padlet, I can't draw feature. A collage of images of people in a classroom

Pros: If you make a board, students can access it without an account. They can create as many images as they want.

Cons: You can only have 3 boards for free. Students have to follow a series of steps to create their images.

Image Creator from Designer

If you have a Microsoft account, Image Creator from Designer is free. Let us use the same prompt as in Padlet and see the results (Fig 11) that we get.

Figure 11
Four photos created by the Microsoft Image Creator from Designer. A collage of people working on laptops

I really do think that I like my Padlet photos in this case better. However, if you have a Microsoft account Image Creator from Designer is free.

Pros: Easy to use. Unlike Padlet you don’t need a lot of clicks to get your images.

Free with a Microsoft account.

Cons: Must log in with a valid Microsoft Account.

Conclusion: As AI continues to shape the landscape of education, adult learners have a wealth of resources at their fingertips. By embracing AI tools like Chat GPT and Gemini responsibly and ethically, students can empower themselves to excel in writing, use images effectively, enrich their vocabulary, and enhance their reading skills. The key lies in harnessing the potential of AI while maintaining a commitment to ethical and responsible usage. In doing so, adult education students can embark on a transformative learning journey, leveraging technology to reach new heights in their academic and personal development.

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.