UW–Madison’s Shaffer speaks about AI and education on WTMJ and WMTV

School of Education faculty member David Williamson Shaffer recently lent his expertise on artificial intelligence and the changing landscape of education to two Wisconsin television news segments. 

Shaffer is the Sears Bascom Professor of Learning Analytics and the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Sciences at the UW–Madison School of Education and a Data Philosopher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

In the story that aired on WTMJ in Milwaukee, Shaffer argued artificial intelligence will be an important tool in schools and workplaces moving forward, and that school-wide or classroom bans of tools like ChatGPT will not serve students.  

David Williamson Shaffer

“Every time a new technology appears, and this is not the first time — we saw this when the internet appeared in the 1990s. Calculators, graphing calculators came into classrooms in the 1980s. Before that, typewriters were a big deal when they were introduced, and so on. So new technologies come and schools adapt,” Shaffer said. 

In the story that aired on WMTV in Madison, Shaffer pointed out that educators are under pressure to quickly adapt their lessons as AI tools proliferate and become more accessible to students. 

“We know that students are going to use it whether or not teachers plan for it, which means that teachers have to plan for it,” he said. “Unfortunately, when change comes this rapidly, teachers are sort of left on their own to figure it out, and I think that’s a big problem.”

Shaffer said he is finding ways to incorporate AI tools like ChatGPT into his graduate-level courses.

“Graduate students often struggle to write academic-like reports, and so this is a good way to take the reports that they’ve written and see what the machine thinks of them, how it can improve them, and learn to write better along the way,” he said.

Shaffer also recently shared “Four things an educational psychologist wants you to know about AI in the classroom” via UW–Madison News. He has done previous media interviews on the subject with WAOW in Wausau, WKOW in Madison, and published an op-ed in Newsweek

Read and watch the entire WTMJ story here and the entire WMTV story here. Interested in learning more? Join David Williamson Schaffer for a webinar on November 8, 2023. 

Modeling Learning in the Age of Chat GPT

in partnership with the Society for Learning Analytics Research

Wednesday, November 8th at 12pm CST

With David Williamson Shaffer, PhD

ChatGPT is the new (and most well-known) AI tool that can whip up an essay, a poem, a bit of advertising copy—and a steady boil of hype and worry about what this will mean for education in the future. This talk looks at what ChatGPT and AI models are really doing, what that means for the future of education — and how we can model, study, and assess learning in the world that ChatGPT is helping us create. Join us for a Feature Webinar, in partnership with the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) as faculty director David Williamson Shaffer discusses implications and potential use for harnessing ChatGPT.

Register here for 11/8

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