top of page

Understanding Generative AI

An introduction to generative AI, LLMs, and prompts.

Understanding Generative AI

In the ever-evolving realm of technology, educators are constantly exploring ways to incorporate new tools and concepts into their teaching. Generative AI, a term that has recently risen to prominence, is one such technology. This article aims to equip educators with a thorough understanding of Generative AI, its significance, and key considerations before introducing it to students.

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a branch of artificial intelligence that excels in creating new content, ranging from text and images to music and code. Distinct from traditional AI systems that analyse and interpret data, generative AI uses existing data to generate fresh, original outputs. It employs sophisticated algorithms and machine learning models to emulate human creativity, offering a wide array of educational and creative applications.

What is an LLM?

LLM stands for Large Language Model, a subset of generative AI designed to understand, generate, and interact in natural language. Trained on extensive text data, they can respond to queries, write essays, compose emails, and even craft poetry. Examples like ChatGPT demonstrate their capability for engaging in meaningful, coherent dialogue, making them invaluable educational resources.

Navigating with Prompts

Prompts are the instructions or queries inputted into a generative AI system, serving as the basis for the AI to generate responses or content. Effective prompting is essential in education, as it influences the AI's output quality and relevance. Educators and students must learn to craft clear, precise, and specific prompts to fully utilise generative AI's capabilities - this is called ‘prompt engineering’. 

The Importance of Teaching Generative AI

Educating students about generative AI is crucial for several reasons. It enhances digital literacy, a vital skill in today's world, and promotes critical thinking and creativity as students learn to interact with and utilise AI for various tasks. Understanding generative AI also prepares students for future careers in an AI-integrated job market and encourages ethical, responsible AI usage, essential for cyber citizenship.

Preparing to Introduce Generative AI in the Classroom

Prior to bringing Generative AI into educational settings, it’s important for educators to comprehend its challenges and limitations:

  • Bias in AI: AI models may mirror biases from their training data, leading to partial or inappropriate outputs.

  • Reliability and Misinformation: AI-generated content isn't always accurate, necessitating critical assessment of AI responses through fact-checking.

  • Ethical Considerations: Conversations about ownership, plagiarism, and ethical usage of AI-generated content are paramount.

  • Privacy and Information Security: Understanding how data is handled by generative AI tools is important to safeguarding online privacy. 

  • Digital Wellbeing: Emphasise the importance of digital wellbeing, reminding students that while LLMs can be interactive and engaging, they are not substitutes for human relationships and should not be mistaken for friends or companions.

Key Points to Remember

When teaching generative AI, it's crucial to:

  • Encourage critical thinking, challenging students to scrutinise and assess AI-generated content.

  • Address the ethical implications of AI, including data privacy and intellectual property issues.

  • Stay abreast of the latest developments in AI to provide current information.

  • Present a balanced perspective of AI, recognising both its potential and limitations.


Generative AI is at the forefront of educational technology. By understanding its mechanics, applications, and implications, educators can prepare students with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate and influence an AI-intertwined future. This journey, though challenging, offers a remarkable opportunity to enhance learning and cultivate a generation of informed, ethical, and imaginative digital citizens.

bottom of page