Microsoft Copilot

What Can I Use It For?

Main Microsoft Copilot screen

With Microsoft Copilot, you can ask the AI chatbot questions and get detailed responses with footnotes that link back to original sources. Because it is connected to Microsoft’s search engine, it has the ability to provide users with up-to-date information and real links, which may make it a better research and teaching tool than ChatGPT. 

In addition to its utility as a research tool, Copilot also has creative modes, which would allow users to leverage its writing capabilities and code generation, in addition to other basic tasks, such as solving math problems. 

The Microsoft Copilot service is currently available to the public, but the public version does not have full privacy and data protections; instead, the University has access to an enterprise edition, which does conform to the University’s usual privacy and data protections. This document describes how employees (eligible faculty and staff with access to the full Microsoft toolkit) can access this protected version of Copilot.

 

Special Notes

You must be logged into your University of Toronto Microsoft 365 account.  

Ensure you have properly signed into your University account and see the “protected” icon and chat confirmation, otherwise your interactions with the AI-powered chat tool will not be in the protected environment:

Protected Icon - MS copilot  

This Academic Toolbox tool helps you...
Organize content / Connect & communicate / Teach from a distance
Typical course activity format:
Asynchronous
Quercus integration
Non-integrated tool

Where can I get more support?

Cost
Centrally funded

How to Get Started

You can access Microsoft Copilot by navigating to copilot.microsoft.com and follow the prompts to login to your University of Toronto Microsoft 365 account.

Your interactions with the AI-powered chat tool will not be in the protected environment if you do not sign in with your University of Toronto account.

 

How to Use This Tool

Microsoft Copilot is based on the latest OpenAI models, including GPT-4 and DALL-E 3, offering text and image generation capabilities in one unified experience.

For the full experience, we recommend the Microsoft Edge browser; using other browsers may not work or deliver a degraded experience.

Some features and highlights about what Microsoft Copilot can do for you: 

  • Uses web search and will provide links to the sources of information it quotes/finds. 
  • Your chat data is not saved and not used to train models. The data is not available to Microsoft. 
  • Copilot cannot access your other Microsoft 365 data.  It does not work on Outlook email, Teams messages, SharePoint files, etc. 
  • The “Sidebar experience” with Copilot when using the Edge browser will use the current main window web page for context when asking questions on the side.
    • For example, when browsing a web page, you can ask “What are the three main topics on this page?” in the sidebar
    • You can view a public pdf file or open a local pdf file or document file in the main Edge browser window and ask contextual questions in the sidebar.
      • For example, Make 10 quiz questions based on chapter 3 of this pdf. 
  • The main window chat is ad-based, but not targeted to your account. It may generate ads based on the search text you are entering. 
  • In addition to text generation, there is an image creator integration (based on DALL-E 3). 

Check its work! 

Remember, the answers a Generative AI tool gives may not be correct (otherwise known as hallucinations).  It will be up to you to determine if the results are acceptable for your needs. Results should never be considered as the authoritative source on a topic or issue. 

Instructions

  • Verify you are successfully connected to the protected environment

    Look for the green “Protected” icon. 

    The “Protected” symbol/icon will appear in multiple places to verify you are connected to the University of Toronto Microsoft Copilot. 

    Copilot interface screen with protected areas highlighted

    1. When using the main browser chat, at the top right of the chat page beside your profile.  
    2. When using the main browser chat, directly above the “Ask me anything…” box. 
    3. When using the sidebar chat feature with the Microsoft Edge browser, near the top left “Chat / Compose” options. 
    4. When using the sidebar chat feature with the Microsoft Edge browser, directly above the “Ask me anything…” box. 

     

     

    If you see either “Sign in”, or a blue medal icon beside your profile icon, or the “Protected” symbol is not next to your profile icon:  Big Chat AI sign-in means not protected

    Copilot no protected symbol beside your name

    This means you are not connected to the protected version of Microsoft Copilot, and your conversation and data are part of the general public Copilot version.  

  • Full sign in process

    It is recommended to use the Microsoft Edge browser as your Copilot application.  (These instructions will follow the process when using the Edge browser, your experience may be different if you use an alternative browser.)

    1. Navigate to copilot.microsoft.com and select “Sign in” near the top right corner.  Select the “Sign in with a work or school account” option.

    Copilot Signin

     

    2. On the Microsoft “Sign in” screen, enter your University of Toronto email address and select “Next”.

    Copilot Microsoft Signin

     

    3. Enter your UTORid information and select “log in”.

    Copilot UTORid Signin screen

     

    4. “Stay Signed in” – if you are using your own private secure computer you may select “yes”, otherwise if using a shared computer select “no”.

    Copilot UTORid stay signed in

     

    5. Accept or reject the cookie options.

    6. Access the Copilot sidebar experience by selecting the Copilot icon at the top right corner of the Edge browser.

    Copilot Edge browser icon

     

    7. You may be asked to “Allow Microsoft to access page content”.  Select the checkbox and the “Confirm and continue chatting”.

    Copilot allow page access screen

     

    The option to “Allow Microsoft to access page content” can be adjusted anytime in the Copilot sidebar settings.

    Copilot allow page access settings

     

    You may also receive a pop-up or warning that Copilot can not access your main browser windows because your Safe Search settings are too strict.

    This can be fixed by browsing to bing.com, selecting the Bing menu (the hamburger menu beside your login name near the top right of the Bing search menu bar), and changing the “SafeSearch” option from “Strict”.

    Bing SafeSearch Strict menu location

     

  • Best Practices for Instructors

    • Instructors should be clear about their expectations for using generative AI tools in their course. 
    • Include your expectations in your syllabus and discuss openly with your class. Is it important to indicate how your acceptable use relates to the course learning goals, so students understand the reason why they are or are not allowed to use generative AI tools. The Sample Syllabus Statement resource, produced by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, provides advice and examples to include in your own syllabus. 
    • Consult university policies and guidelines. In particular, instructors can visit the ChatGPT and Generative AI in the Classroom FAQ site for more information. 
    • Try it for yourself; you do not need to become an expert in using Generative AI tools.  Trying out a few tools for yourself will at least give you an idea of what your students are able to do when interacting with your course content.  
    • Never upload or use information which may be considered confidential, sensitive, private or personal as part of prompting an AI too. And do not use material where you do not own the copyright – don’t upload other people’s work, especially student work, where you do not have written consent to do so. 
  • What is a prompt?

    A prompt is natural language text describing the task that an AI agent or chatbot should perform. Prompt writing (sometimes known as prompt engineering) is the process of structuring a prompt that can be interpreted and understood by the AI system. In the context of using Microsoft Copilot, a prompt can be a textual query such as “What is the Pythagoream theorem?”, or a command such as “Write a poem about the sun”, or a short statement such as “Your last response requires more details.”. 

     

    Prompt writing guidance

    Start with basic information: 

    1. Be clear and specific.   
    2. Provide relevant context and background information. 
    3. Provide examples. 

     

    Try some more advanced prompt writing techniques:

    ROLE

    (Act as a…)

    TASK

    (Create a…)

    REQUIREMENTS

    (Be sure to…)

    OUTPUT

    (Turn into…)

    • Instructor (of a course in..)

    • Learning Designer

    • Researcher

    • Committee Chair

    • Tutor/TA

    • Presenter

    • Set of X quiz questions

    • Interactive quiz

    • Course outline

    • Active learning activity

    • Lesson

    • Summary

    • Include

    • Exclude

    • List

    • Explain at a grade X level

    • Show all steps

    • Limit the length to X

    • Plain text

    • Bulleted list

    • Table

    • CSV file with X number of rows

    • An image

    • HTML/coding

  • How to work with a local file on your computer using the Edge sidebar experience

    Using the Sidebar experience with Copilot and the Edge browser, Copilot can “see” the content in the regular browser window.  

    Copilot sidebar see main window

    This content that you can then ask Copilot questions of can be in many forms such as:

    • A local file from your computer such as a pdf.
    • A web page you are currently viewing or ask Copilot to search the entire site for context.
    • A video, for example, while watching a YouTube video you can ask Copilot questions about that video.
    • An image file, either public URL or upload an image.  You can ask Copilot to explain information in a graph for example.
    • A publicly available URL that is a text file such as a pdf.

     

    How to open a local file from your computer.
    (Depending on how your browser handles opening certain file types, it may or may not open properly in the Edge browser window.)

    On a PC:

    1. Using the Windows File Explorer, navigate to the file you wish to use.
    2. Right-click with your mouse and select “Open with” from the drop-down menu.
    3. Select Microsoft Edge

    Copilot open a file on a PC

     

    On a Mac:

    1. With the Microsoft Edge browser open, select “File” from the top menu bar and then “Open File…” .

    Copilot open a file on a MAC

  • Information Security considerations

    This Microsoft Copilot edition (Commercial data protection for Microsoft Copilot) has been evaluated by the University’s Information Security team, and it has been deemed safe to use for up to Level 3 (Three) data avoiding the use of any private, sensitive, personally identifiable or confidential information.

    Guidelines on using artificial intelligence (University of Toronto Information Security)

    Furthermore, users should only use Copilot with their own content or content available publicly but not where the copyright holder has not granted permission. To read more about copyright and AI considerations, please visit this helpful resource from the University of Toronto Libraries. Where possible, de-identify (replace personally identifiable information fields with one or more artificial identifiers) or anonymize (remove personally identifiable data) data sets to avoid any privacy implications.

Guides

  • Information and resources from Microsoft

    Microsoft Copilot additional information and resources: 

Videos

  • Copilot data protection: Explained by Microsoft

    For the purposes of this video, “Bing Chat Enterprise” is the same as the current University of Toronto Microsoft Copilot service the University subscribes.
    (Bing Chat Enterprise is the former name).

  • How Microsoft Copilot works with your data using GPT-4

    The university does not subscribe to the Microsoft “365″ Copilot service described in this video, only the “Bing Chat Enterprise” features.

    For the purposes of this video, “Bing Chat Enterprise” is the same as the current University of Toronto Microsoft Copilot service the University subscribes.
    (Bing Chat Enterprise is the former name).

Privacy Considerations

Users should only use Copilot with their own content or content available publicly but not where the copyright holder has not granted permission. To read more about copyright and AI considerations, please visit this helpful resource from the University of Toronto Libraries. Where possible, de-identify (replace personally identifiable information fields with one or more artificial identifiers) or anonymize (remove personally identifiable data) data sets to avoid any privacy implications.

Security Considerations

This Microsoft Copilot edition (Commercial data protection for Microsoft Copilot) has been evaluated by the University’s Information Security team, and it has been deemed safe to use for up to Level 3 (Three) data avoiding the use of any private, sensitive, personally identifiable or confidential information.

Guidelines on using artificial intelligence (University of Toronto Information Security)

Last Modified:

23 February, 2024

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