Guide to Using Microsoft Copilot with Commercial Data Protection for UNSW Students

Welcome to your quick guide on effectively using Microsoft's AI tool, Copilot.

Microsoft Copilot is one of many generative AI tools. Each AI tool is slightly different. UNSW is providing Copilot free to students and the advantage of Copilot with Commercial Data Protection, compared to other Generative AI tools, is your data is protected, meaning it is safer to use than free versions.
It also offers some features available only on paid versions of other generative AI platforms.

This information will help you understand the opportunities Generative AI offers when you use critical and reflective thinking to evaluate its output:

  1. Explain how to navigate through Copilot’s different modes 
  2. Remind you of AI’s limitations 
  3. Offer some prompt ideas to learn how to test Copilot’s capabilities. 
  4. Remind you of responsible and ethical use of AI

Copilot’s Modes

Copilot offers different modes to tailor its responses based on your needs
  • Creative Mode: Best for brainstorming and generating innovative ideas. Use this when you’re looking for inspiration or an unconventional approach. Creative mode also utilises a more recent version of ChatGPT than the other modes.
  • Balanced Mode: This is the default setting, providing a mix of creativity and accuracy. Ideal for most academic tasks.
  • Precise Mode: Use this when you need detailed, specific information. It focuses on accuracy and detail, which is perfect for technical explanations and data analysis. In addition, precise mode also utilises ChatGPT.

For more information on how to use Microsoft Copilot with Commercial Data Protection, please take a look at the AI@UNSW page on My IT.

Understanding Copilot's Limitations

Copilot, like all AI language models, has its limitations
  • Context Understanding: While Copilot is good at following instructions, it may not fully grasp the deeper context or nuances of complex academic subjects.
  • Up-to-Date Information: Copilot’s training data has a cutoff time, meaning it might not have the latest research or current events.
  • Bias and Errors: Copilot, as with all AI, can inherit biases and incorrect information . This means it might generate incorrect, biased or misleading information or content. Always cross-verify information with trusted sources. All references cited by AI should be verified to ensure the information is correct.

Prompt Ideas to Try

To get the most out of Copilot, here are some prompt ideas you can try
  • Summarise Information: "Summarise the key points of this article in bullet points."
  • Generate Questions: "What are some critical questions one should ask after reading this chapter?"
  • Concept Explanation: "Explain the concept of [complex topic] in simple terms for a beginner."
  • Comparative Analysis: "Compare and contrast [Topic A] and [Topic B] in terms of [specific criteria]."

Testing Copilot’s Capabilities

To understand the depth and utility of Copilot, and to see its limitations, consider these tests
  • Create an Image: Try asking it the following prompt: “create a diagram showcasing the neural networks of the human brain”.
  • Familiar Paper Test: Find a paper you know well and ask, copy and paste the text into Copilot with the following prompt: "Explain how this paper might be useful to, or important to understand for, the average University student." This test demonstrates Copilot’s ability to interpret and explain academic papers.  You can then ask yourself, Has any critical or important information been left out? Made up or misrepresented?” “Has the output resulted in a response that is in line with what I might have crafted myself?

How to be responsible with AI and use it ethically

Tips for how to be responsible

By using the above tests and prompts, you can get a better sense of how Copilot functions and how it can be utilised effectively in your studies. Remember, Copilot is a tool to enhance your learning experience, not a replacement for your own hard work and understanding. Feel free to explore and experiment with Copilot, and always strive to use this powerful tool responsibly and effectively.

  • Check with Your Course Coordinator: Before using Copilot in your assignments, ensure it's permitted by your course guidelines.
  • Use for Drafting and Brainstorming: Utilise Copilot to help generate ideas, outline essays, or start projects.
  • Improve Learning: Ask Copilot to explain complex concepts in simpler terms or provide examples to clarify difficult points.
  • Cite Your Sources: If you use information provided by Copilot, make sure to try and verify and cite the original sources appropriately. For more information on how to reference AI responses refer to UNSW AI referencing guidelines.

These actions should be avoided. They have a negative impact on learning and marks:

  1. Don’t plagiarise: Never submit AI-generated text or images as your own original work without proper attribution.
  2. Don’t cut and paste from AI: AI does not have the human skills of common sense, and critical and creative thinking. These will be lacking in your work if you do not use your human-only skills in interacting with AI. Also, AI plagiarises work from other places, and you may fall into the trap of plagiarising if you do cut and paste.

Don’t believe AI: Always double-check Copilot’s suggestions for potential errors, biases or outdated information. Be very careful with references – these are rarely correct and are often invented by AI. All references cited by AI should be verified to ensure the information is correct.

See also

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