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UVa task force to host town hall discussions on AI's impact on education

The rise in popularity of ChatGPT, DALL-E and other programs has raised serious questions over the challenges and opportunities posed by generative artificial intelligence for learning.

And the University of Virginia plans to be a part of that conversation.

Starting Monday, the UVa Generative AI in Teaching & Learning Task Force will host a series of virtual town hall discussions aimed at deepening the community’s understanding of generative AI, providing insights into how AI tools are evolving and inspiring fresh ideas about harnessing AI to improve student learning.

Six online town hall meeting and questionnaires will be held from Monday through April 14.

The planned meetings are as follows:

Arts and Sciences (Natural Sciences) Online Town Hall: 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday.

Architecture, Batten, Education and Human Development, & Nursing Online Town Hall: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday.

Engineering and Applied Sciences & Data Science Online Town Hall: 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 10.

Arts and Sciences (Social Sciences) Online Town Hall: 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., April 11.

Arts and Sciences (Arts & Humanities) & Professional and Continuing Education Online Town Hall: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., April 12.

Darden, Law, & McIntire Online Town Hall: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., April 14.

Faculty and students may attend any session. Participants are asked to register for each session on the task force website. Each session is limited to 300 participants, but the task force said it will consider offering additional sessions if there is high demand.

The seven-member Generative AI in Teaching & Learning Task Force was formed at the direction of Ian Baucom, UVa’s executive vice president and provost.

“Generative artificial intelligence has arrived and many of us are experimenting with tools such as ChatGPT and DALL-E,” Baucom said in a letter to faculty announcing the task force. “Faculty and graduate instructors are eager to learn how this technology might be harnessed to enhance instruction and how to best ensure that students use these tools appropriately.”

At Baucom’s direction, Brie Gertler, the vice provost for academic affairs, formed the task force with Natasha Heny, an associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development, and Andrew Pennock, an associate professor in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Heny and Pennock serve as co-chairs on the force.

Other members of the task force include Gabrielle Bray, a fourth-year student who chairs the Honor Committee; T. Kenny Fountain, an associate professor of English and director of Writing Across the Curriculum in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Briana Morrison, an associate professor of computer science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; Reza Mousavi, an assistant professor of commerce in the McIntire School of Commerce; and Michael Palmer, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence.

“Both faculty and students are invited to these online town halls,” Heny told the university’s media outlet UVA Today. “We will provide some information and then ask them critical questions that get them to engage, and they will record their responses in a form we will use as a source of data.”

“We want to learn how students and faculty are actually using this technology in courses,” Pennock added. “We hear anecdotal evidence from the faculty members who are closest to us, but we really want to understand how our students using it to study as well as to complete assignments. There’s a real opportunity for faculty to make their classes better, to be able to get more work done in the same amount of time.”


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