Pearson's AI-Powered Study Tools: Frequently Asked Questions

At Pearson, we use Artificial Intelligence (AI), to enhance the learning experiences of students. Our AI features, including those specifically designed for our eTextbook and MyLab/Mastering (MLM) products, harness generative AI and natural language processing (NLP) for learning techniques that help deliver personalised learning support.

We understand that the complexity of AI can raise important questions about how it works, the data it uses, and its impact on privacy. To ensure transparency and explain ability in our AI use, we have compiled this concise FAQ guide.

In these FAQs, we clarify how our AI features operate in both the eTextbook and MLM tutor context, how they use your personal data, and how we protect your privacy rights. Our aim is to empower you in your interaction with this advanced technology, and to provide clarity on how we handle your personal data. Your trust is of utmost importance to us, and we strive to earn and maintain it.

1. How do the AI features work?

The AI features leverage the power of generative AI, alongside Pearson learning content, to provide a personalised and engaging learning experience. It works by processing inputs, such as text commands from the learners, and then referencing the relevant Pearson content, it generates suitable, tailored responses to assist with learning.

2. What is the intended purpose of the Pearson AI features?

Pearson AI features have been developed to support students by enhancing their learning experiences. It provides students with on-demand, individualised study support, assisting and guiding them through answering questions, explaining concepts, and providing useful learning resources.

3. How do the AI features make decisions?

Our AI, powered by GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) and other AI models we are currently testing, makes decisions about the output based on a vast amount of text data it's been trained on. It doesn't "decide" in the human sense, rather, it predicts the next piece of text based on the information it has seen before. Features, or patterns in the data, guide this process. The AI looks for patterns in the input it receives, matches these to similar patterns it's seen in its training data, and generates a response from the Pearson content it has been given as source material, that fits the recognised pattern. In a sense, it's like a highly advanced pattern recognition and prediction tool. These responses are designed to assist users in understanding and mastering challenging subjects and specific topics

4. What type of data do the AI features use?

The AI features use educational content, including the content of textbooks, academic articles, and other Pearson learning materials. Additionally, it uses the data provided by the student through their interaction with the AI features to tailor its responses.

5. Are users interacting directly with an AI system?

Yes, users interact directly with an AI system when they use the Pearson AI features. However, it’s essential to remember that while the AI features provide helpful responses and learning assistance, they do not replace human tutors or instructors.

6. What are the limitations of the AI features?

While the AI features are powerful tools designed to enhance learning, they are not without limitations. They can’t fully replace interaction with human tutors or instructors. In fact, they work best as a supplement to traditional learning methods. Also, they rely on the data used to train them, including the specific Pearson content being fed into them, so they may not be able to answer all questions or provide insights into more recent developments in a specific field. Nor should the AI be relied upon to help make significant decisions about an individual’s education, all of which should be discussed with a trusted instructor with specialist skills, training and a knowledge of the individual student.

7. How is user personal data handled and protected in the system?

Our AI features are designed with a keen focus on user privacy and the protection of personal data. When we mention personal data, we're referring to any information that could be used to directly or indirectly identify an individual such as name, email address, phone number, home address, sensitive information like race, ethnicity and so on as defined under applicable data protection legislation.

In most cases, the AI features do not collect or handle any personal data. However, there may be times when users choose to share personal data voluntarily, such as in feedback or while communicating with the AI features, despite our clear disclaimers advising against doing so.

When users share their personal data, we handle it with extreme care, strictly adhering to all relevant privacy laws and regulations. We apply robust security measures, like data encryption and secure servers, to prevent unauthorised access, alteration, or destruction of our users’ personal data.

Importantly, we want to emphasise that any personal data shared with us voluntarily is not incorporated into the AI system integrated with Pearson AI features. The AI features do not access or learn from this personal data. It is used solely for the purpose of service improvement and to facilitate better user experiences. Moreover, this data is not shared with third parties without explicit consent, except if necessary for the provision of the service or when mandated by law.

For a more detailed understanding of how we handle personal data, please refer to our Privacy Notice. This notice provides an extensive outline of our data handling practices and your rights as a user.

Users who have shared information retain their rights to access, correct, delete, or object to processing of this data. These rights can be exercised by contacting our support team.

We advise all users not to share personal data during interactions with the AI features, in line with our guidelines and to ensure their privacy. Regular audits and reviews of our data handling practices are conducted to ensure our commitment to data privacy and security remains uncompromised.

8. Do you use my personal data to train the AI features?

We don’t use your personal data to train the AI features in our Pearson product offerings. We utilise established models from providers such as Microsoft Azure OpenAI, which remain unaffected by any personal data of our users. If our users provide us with their personal data, like when giving us feedback, we handle this data with great care. Importantly, this data doesn't contribute to any alteration or refinement of the AI models.

Our primary objective is to deliver a customised and engaging learning journey for you while maintaining an unwavering commitment to preserving your privacy and safeguarding your personal data.

9. How is AI being used ethically in Pearson

We are committed to using AI ethically. The AI features have been designed with privacy and ethical considerations in mind. They respect user data privacy, provide transparency in their operations, and are designed to enhance, not replace, human instruction. We continually monitor and review our system to ensure it aligns with ethical AI principles.

10. What are the ‘community guidelines’ for users?

Every platform has a set of rules which set out how they expect users to behave on their platform. These rules are often called ‘community guidelines’ ‘terms of use’ or ‘behaviour standards.’ Users are responsible for creating an environment that’s authentic and safe for everyone. Together with the ‘Acceptable Use Policy’, our guidelines help you understand how to do it. Our Community GuidelinesTerms of Use are published on our website.

Violations may lead to users' content being removed and/or your access getting terminated.

11. How can I provide feedback or raise concerns about the responses given by the AI features?

We value your feedback and encourage you to share your views and/or raise any questions, suggestions or concerns regarding the AI features via the feedback option embedded in the AI features and/or in the applicable product. We appreciate your input as it helps us improve our services and provide a better learning experience.