Advice and Guidance

Learner Guidance for FE

(Note: updated 23rd Jan 2024 )

We’ve had lots of interest in the best way to provide advice to learners in colleges.  One approach is to clearly seperate policies (which are more formal statements) from more friendly, learner facing advice.  In this blog post we’ve created an example of learner advice for comment and feedback.

  • Would this approach work for your learners?
  • What else would you like to see included?
  • Is there anything you think should be removed, or that you disagree with?

Table of Contents

1. What is AI and Generative AI?

1.1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

1.2. Generative AI

1.3. How can these tools be used?

2. How to use AI in College

3. Limitations of AI

4. How not to use AI in College

5. Guidelines for using AI in assignments

5.1. Referencing AI

5.2. Academic Misconduct

5.3. AI Safety and Data Privacy

1. What is AI and Generative AI?

1.1 Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t have just one definition that everyone agrees on. In simple terms however think of it as a computer system doing jobs that usually require human intelligence. Most of the time, these AI systems learn and get smarter by themselves, which is called machine learning.

1.2 Generative AI

This is a specific type of AI that can generate content like text, pictures, or computer code. It learns from large data models and generates something new based on a user’s input. Some examples of these tools are:

  • Text Generators: Like ChatGPT or Microsoft Copilot, which can write text almost like a human.
  • Image Creators: Such as DALL-E, which can make pictures from descriptions.
  • Coding Helpers: Like GitHub Copilot, which suggests code while you’re programming.

1.3 How can these tools be used?

Using generative AI tools the right way, particularly at college means being genuine and transparent about how you’re utilising AI in your work.  AI can aid in understanding complex theories or subjects. It can break down complicated concepts into simpler terms, making learning more approachable. However, the understanding and interpretation you develop from these simplified explanations are vital to your academic progression.

In essence, while AI tools can provide a valuable foundation and support, it’s your intellectual engagement and personal touch that will allow you to gain the most from using these tools. Below we have included some prompts that are examples of using generative AI correctly.

Use Case Example Prompt Example Response
Finding Answers to Common Questions “What is the boiling point of water?” “The boiling point of water is 100°C at sea level.”
Generating Creative Ideas for Graphics and Visuals “I need ideas for a poster about recycling.” “Consider a poster showing a vibrant, healthy planet on one side and a polluted, dying one on the other, with recycling as the bridge between them. Use bold colours and simple icons to represent different recyclable materials.”
Reviewing and Critically Analysing Texts for Validity “Can you analyse this article on climate change for accuracy?” “The article’s claims about rising sea levels align with scientific data, but its predictions about future temperature increases are exaggerated beyond what most current models predict.”
Improving Grammar and Writing for Non-Native English Speakers “I wrote an email in English. Can you check and correct it?” “Certainly! Here are some corrections and suggestions for your email: [provides detailed corrections and explanations].”
Experimenting with Different Writing Styles “Can you rewrite this paragraph in a more formal tone?” “Original paragraph: [text] Rewritten in a formal tone: [text] The revised paragraph adopts a more structured and sophisticated language, suitable for formal contexts.”
Explaining Concepts “Explain the concept of photosynthesis in simple terms.” “Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water. This process also produces oxygen, which is important for life on Earth.”
Creating Personalised Revision Material “I’m nearing the end of my plumbing apprenticeship and need to prepare for the endpoint assessment, which includes a practical installation test and a design project. Can you provide me with practice scenarios and design challenges?” “Absolutely! Here are a series of practical installation scenarios and design project challenges, which cover key topics like the installation of heating and cold/hot water systems, and innovative environmental technology solutions: [list of practical scenarios and design challenges]
Self-Assessment and Practice “I’m studying for my T Level in Onsite Construction. Can you create practice scenarios for building regulations and safety protocols?” “Of course! Here are several scenarios and questions ranging from fundamental safety practices to more complex building code requirements, designed to test and enhance your knowledge in these areas: [list of scenarios and questions]”

2. How to Use AI in College

Always strive to be original in your work, ensuring that what you produce is genuinely yours, even when utilising AI tools. AI should be used as a study aid, assisting in generating ideas, organising notes, explaining difficult concepts, and checking spelling and grammar. However, it’s crucial to use AI with care, as it can sometimes be inaccurate and may make mistakes. Always make sure to double-check the work generated by AI to ensure accuracy and reliability.

3. Limitations of AI

It is important to recognise that AI does not ‘understand’ its output in the same way humans do. While AI-generated content often appears plausible, it can be factually inaccurate. AI can make errors and even make information up. Below are some limitations of AI that you should be aware of:

  • Lack of true understanding: AI does not possess a human-like understanding of its outputs. It processes information based on algorithms and data, lacking real comprehension. For example, AI might generate a text about a medical procedure without truly understanding the complexities and implications of medical practice.
  • Potential for inaccuracies: Despite often producing plausible results, the information can be incorrect, include errors or even be fabricated. An example of this could be AI generating some text on a historical event like the moon landing but including factual errors such as incorrect dates or describing the technology used incorrectly.
  • Inability to provide genuine references: AI systems are not capable of providing real references for the information they generate. AI could create a convincing article about a scientific study on the benefits of a new diet, but there would be no real studies or data to back it up and the references it generates are made up.
  • Risk of bias and stereotypes: AI can accidentally reflect and propagate stereotypes and biases in its outputs. It can for example assume that a nurse is female based on stereotypical data that the models are trained on.

4. How Not to Use AI in College

In college, AI should be used as an aid, not as a replacement for a learner’s own work. Misusing AI in college can lead to academic consequences. Examples of how not to use AI include:

  • Submitting AI-generated work as your own: Using AI to complete assignments, essays, or projects without proper references to tools you have used or in violation of academic guidelines is unethical and can be considered plagiarism.
  • Relying solely on AI for Learning: Using AI as the only source of information or understanding in your studies can hinder your ability to think critically and learn deeply.
  • Bypassing learning opportunities: Using AI to avoid engaging with challenging learning material or to bypass learning processes decreases your opportunity to develop essential skills and knowledge.
  • Ignoring the limitation of AI: Overestimating the capabilities of AI and not checking the accuracy of its outputs can lead to the spread of incorrect or misleading information.

Below are some example prompts that we believe are unacceptable to be used.

Example prompt Example response Issue with this prompt
“I need to write an essay about the communication skills. Can you write it for me?” “Sure, here’s a complete essay on the communication skills: [full essay].” This is a direct request to have AI do the entire assignment, which amounts to plagiarism.
“I have a math assignment due. Can you solve these problems for me?” “Yes, here are the solutions to your math problems: [complete solutions].” Outsourcing the problem-solving to AI bypasses your learning process.
“Can you write an assignment on global warming for my science class?” “Certainly, here’s a assignment on global warming: [complete paper].” Similar to the first example, this is requesting AI to do the entire task, which is unethical and academically dishonest.
“I’m not sure if I can use AI for my history presentation. Can you create the presentation for me?” “Yes, I can create the presentation slides for you: [complete presentation slides].” This replaces your own work and understanding with AI-generated content, leading to a lack of personal learning and contribution.
“I need a business studies topic and essay for my assignment. Can AI write it for me?” “Absolutely, here’s a topic and an essay on your chosen topic: [complete essay].” This is a severe case of academic dishonesty as a thesis is a major, original work expected to be your own effort.
“Can you add references to this piece of work?” “Sure, here are some references: [provided references].” This encourages a reliance on AI for academic integrity tasks, potentially leading to fabricated or inappropriate references.

5. Guidelines for Using AI in Assignments

5.1 Referencing AI

[Note: Advice varies between awarding bodies, so you will need to make sure this aligns with your awarding bodies]

When using AI-generated content in your assignments, it’s important to reference it properly. This ensures academic integrity and makes clear the extent of AI involvement in your work. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Clearly indicate AI contributions: If your assignment includes content generated or assisted by AI, such as a text or an image, make sure to clearly indicate which parts were aided by AI. This could be done through footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations.
  • Provide details about the AI tool: Include the name of the AI tool (e.g., ChatGPT, DALL-E, GitHub Copilot) and the version if applicable. This information gives context to the nature of the AI’s involvement.
  • Explain the role of AI: Briefly describe how the AI was used. For example, if AI was used for initial brainstorming, drafting, or providing a structure for your work, specify this in your reference.
  • Document AI interactions for review: Retain a non-editable record (such as a screenshot) of the AI interaction, including the questions asked and the responses received. This documentation should be submitted along with your assignment, allowing assessors to review both the AI-generated content and its application in your work.
  • Acknowledge AI like you would a normal reference: Recognise the use of AI tools in your assignment in a manner that upholds academic integrity. This includes precise referencing of AI sources, not just a general mention of ‘AI’ or ‘ChatGPT’. [Note: Advice varies between awarding bodies, so you will need to make sure this aligns with your awarding bodies, and we suggest linking to existing referencing guidance here]

5.2 Academic Misconduct

  • Learners are reminded to uphold academic integrity when submitting assignments. This includes ensuring that all submitted work is their own and that they adhere to the college’s academic policy.

[Note: Colleges should link to their relevant policies]

5.3 AI Safety and Data Privacy

You must be conscious of the fact that AI systems, such as chatbots and image generators, can store and process the data provided to them, ranging from basic inquiries to more personal details. To maintain privacy and security, it is advised that you:

  • Don’t share sensitive information: Avoid entering personal, financial, or confidential information into AI tools and steer clear of prompts that might require disclosing such details.
  • Be informed about data policies: Familiarise yourself with the data collection and usage policies of various AI platforms, helping you understand the potential use or sharing of your data.
  • Exercise caution with college data: In projects or research that involve college data, always comply with the institution’s policies on data privacy and security.
  • Report any issues promptly: Should you encounter problems related to data misuse or privacy breaches in AI usage, report these incidents immediately to the appropriate college authorities.
  • Be aware of age requirements: Most AI tools, including ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, require parental consent if you are under 18, so make sure you ask your parent or guardian before using these tools.


23 Jan 2024

Section ‘5.3 AI Safety and Data Privacy‘ was updated with a new point ‘Be aware of age requirements‘. Change of title from Students to Learners.


License: CC BY-NC-SA

Creative Commons marker BY-NC-SA indicating content can be shared and adapted freely for non commercial purposes. If used appropriate credit should be given and any remixed works must be shared under the same license as the original.

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2 replies on “Learner Guidance for FE”

This looks to be a very useful piece of guidance, however I was expecting to see reference to age limits in there as we are focusing on FE students.

Thanks for your feedback Karen. We are currently in the process of collating all feedback and will share an updated version of the guidance once this has been done.

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