David Williamson Shaffer
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Science

P-12, Higher Ed

  • Adaptive courseware
  • Assessment
  • Data and statistics
  • Education technology
  • Educational standards
  • Game-based learning
  • Online learning
  • Research and methodology
  • STEM education
  • Workforce development

David Williamson Shaffer is the Vilas distinguished professor of learning science at the University of Wisconsin -Madison and a game scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Shaffer has more than 30 years of experience as an educator and researcher, including a 2008-09 European Union Marie Curie Fellowship. Shaffer studies how new technologies change the way people think and how they can be used to improve teaching and learning. A frequent international speaker, Shaffer is known for developing virtual internships: Online simulations work as professionals to learn complex thinking skills by solving real-world problems. His book, “How Computer Games Help Children Learn,” is a widely cited source on digital learning. Shaffer is also a pioneer in the science of quantitative ethnography, and developed the technique of epistemic network analysis, a tool for using big data to assess collaboration and complex thinking. His doctorate is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. To learn more about Shaffer’s work, visit