Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to Generative AI

This library guide is a UIUC campus resource to read and reference for instructional, professional, and personal learning. Updates will occur on a semester basis. Last Updated: March 2024


This section provides a brief overview of popular tools. The tools are described for information purposes only and are not an endorsement. Please consult with your instructor, supervisor, and journal publication for their generative AI usage policies. Approach usability and application with caution and discretion.

Last Updated: February 2024

Mircosoft CoPilot

What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is a chatbot created by Microsoft and is incorporated into the search engine Bing and can also be incorporated into Microsoft 365 software. Users can interact with Microsoft Copilot through Microsoft’s web browser, Edge, by typing a prompt into Bing’s search engine, and clicking the Chat button at the bottom of the search dropdown menu. The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Technology Services provides a brief overview post on Microsoft Copilot, which includes how to get started and tips for using Copilot with data protection.

Microsoft Copilot Models Available

  • Copilot: free version with basic access
  • Copilot Pro: individual monthly subscription that includes Copilot and additional features
  • Copilot for Microsoft 365: monthly subscription for business. Applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams incorporate Copilot to optimize workflow (ex. summarizing emails in Outlook or generating tables in Word).


As with other tools, do not share or input personal or confidential information. You can learn more about Copilot from the Microsoft Learn page:

How can I access Microsoft Copilot?

You can try out and learn more about Microsoft Copilot with the Center for Innovation in Teaching Learning (CITL).

Example Prompts

Microsoft Support's Copilot page provides information on how to write prompts for this platform. Below are some prompts that can be used with Microsoft Copilot:

  • General: Provide main themes for the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. 
  • In Outlook: Write an email to Professor Johnson to ask if he is available to meet next week to discuss the upcoming test. Include a sentence that I cannot attend his office hours because I have another class at that time.


What is ChatGPT?

Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, or ChatGPT, is a chatbox developed by OpenAI that uses large language models to craft text. Launched in November 2022, ChatGPT is free and available after creating an account with OpenAI. The two most frequently used versions of ChatGPT are ChatGPT (version 3.5) and GPT Plus (version 4.0). You can try different versions of the OpenAI models, as well as adjust different parameters for generation, at OpenAI Platform's Playground.

ChatGPT Models Available

  • Free: basic access
  • *Plus: individual monthly subscription that includes access to the latest model and other tools
  • Team: monthly subscription for businesses
  • Enterprise: company-wide subscription model for businesses, which includes Team access and more.

*GPT Plus is a paid subscription version of the tool that is multimodal, meaning that you can input images as well as text, though it will not generate images. This version also uses more recent data to produce more up-to-date responses, than ChatCPT 3.5, which uses data from up until January 2022. According to OpenAI, GPT Plus has advanced reasoning capabilities and is more likely to provide factual responses than previous versions.


As with other tools, do not share or input personal or confidential information. Consult the official OpenAI platform policies for terms and policies as updates are constant evolving. This tool...

  • Can produce hallucinations.
  • May respond with inappropriate, harmful, or biased information.
  • Will guess what the user intends instead of following-up with clarifying questions. 
  • Is sensitive to the input. The generator may provide a completely different output based on a slight change in the prompt.
  • Applies OpenAI Universal Policies
    • compile with applicable laws
    • don’t use the services to harm yourself or others
    • don’t repurpose or distribute output to harm others 
    • respect the OpenAI guidelines

How can I access ChatGPT?

Visit or make an appointment at the Center for Innovation in Teaching Learning (CITL) and try out the trial version of ChatGPT at one of their computer stations.

You can use ChatGPT for free once you create an open AI account, or you can pay $20/month for GPT Plus. The GPT store also provides a number of more specialized AI “agents” built on ChatGPT. You can try different versions of the OpenAI models, as well as adjust different parameters for generation, at OpenAI Platform's Playground.

Example Prompts

OpenAI's Documentation for prompt engineering provides some strategies for this platform. Below are some prompts that can be used with ChatGPT:

  • Provide a two paragraph summary on the Haitian Revolution.
  • Write a short three sentence thank you letter in a professional tone.

Gemini (formerly Bard)

What is Gemini?

Gemini is a series of AI tools developed by Google. Overtaking Google’s former chatbox, known as Google Bard, Gemini is considered by Google to be multimodal, meaning that it can recognize text, image, audio, video, and code input. Gemini serves as a business tool and personal assistant for users. 

Gemini Models Available:

  • Gemini Ultra: largest model that can best accommodate highly complex tasks
  • Gemini Pro: best model for scaling a wide range of tasks
  • Gemini Nano: most-effective model for smartphones and other tasks on devices
  • Gemini Advanced: individual monthly subscription in development

Gemini is free to use with the Pro model. The Ultra model is available with a monthly subscription fee. 


As with other tools, do not share or input personal or confidential information. You can learn more about this tool on Gemini Apps FAQ.

  • Google Privacy Policies
    • Gemini Apps are an experimental technology and may sometimes give inaccurate or inappropriate information that doesn’t represent Google’s views.
    • Don’t rely on responses from Gemini Apps for medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice.
    • When you interact with Gemini Apps, Google collects your conversations, location, feedback, and usage information.
      • Sample conversations are reviewed by trained reviewers and kept for up to three years, separately from your Google Account.

Example Prompts

GoogleCloud's "Send chat prompt requests (Gemini)" page provides information on how to write prompts for this platform. Below are some prompts that can be used with Gemini:

  • Your task is to extract the list of ingredients from this recipe.
  • Your task is to summarize an abstract into one sentence.  Avoid technical jargon and explain it in the simplest of words.
    “This article investigates the migratory pattern of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) using a combination of citizen science data and advanced tracking technology. Analyzing observations from birdwatchers and deploying GPS tags on a sample population, we reveal distinct seasonal movements and stopover locations during both spring and fall migrations. Our findings indicate that Northern Cardinals exhibit a partial migratory strategy, with some individuals undertaking long-distance journeys while others remain sedentary. Additionally, we explore the potential factors influencing these migratory decisions, such as environmental conditions and resource availability. Understanding the intricacies of Northern Cardinal migration is crucial for conservation efforts and contributes valuable insights into the adaptability of a widely distributed and iconic North American species.”