Spotlight on Bill Gardner
Bill Gardner is an Associate Professor at Marshall University, where he teaches cyber security in the Department of Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Forensic Sciences. He is also the Undergraduate Program Coordinator of the Cyber Forensics and Security program.
Gardner has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Marshall University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marshall University. He just completed an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Curriculum & Instruction and is currently working on this dissertation to complete an Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Curriculum & Instruction. He is also an Offensive Security Certified Professional.
Prior to joining the faculty at Marshall, Gardner co-founded the SecureWV/Hack3rCon convention and is a co-founder of 304geeks, a West Virginia technology networking organization. He is an active member of the information security community and has spoken at a number of information security conferences.
Gardner is also the co-author of two books: Building an Information Security Awareness Program: Defending Against Social Engineering and Technical Threats, and Google Hacking for Penetration Testers.
In online classes, it can be difficult to help students feel connected to their professor without intentional strategies. What are some strategies you use to humanize yourself in online classes?
Posting weekly updates on the information we will be covering that week and discussion boards work great for student to professor and student-to-student interactions as well as building a sense of community among the students.
Thank you for being a part of Marshall’s HyFlex pilot! Now that you have taught some HyFlex courses, what advice do you wish you could have given yourself when you taught HyFlex for the first time?
Be prepared for technical issues. I consider myself technically savvy, but I still had issues. I look forward to teaching HyFlex again this Spring as HyFlex really does meet the students where they are.
We appreciate the work that you are doing with Marshall’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) Taskforce. How do you talk to your students about using AI in college? How does this inform your AI policy in your syllabus?
AI is a tool. Just like a calculator is a tool. It’s an assistive technology. AI doesn’t take the place of human intelligence. I focus on teaching students how to properly use AI. In the coming years, students who know how to use AI will outpace those who have not learned to use AI.
What tips do you have for designing assignments that help students critically engage with AI?
I allow my students to use AI with attribution. I also asked them to fact check the answer AI might give them and to correct spelling and grammar errors as well.
How would you respond to faculty who are concerned about students using AI to plagiarize? What advice would you give them?
There is no way to “prove AI plagiarism.” All the detectors have been taken offline because they did not work. I’m also concerned that AI has detected material written by neurodiverse students and flagged it as AI.
What are some ways you use AI for workflow purposes that you would recommend for other faculty or staff?
AI has been very helpful when writing grant proposals. My advice for staff and faculty is to leave the boring stuff to AI so you can concentrate on the more important work.
Can you tell us about one time that you were surprised by a generative AI response to one of your prompts?
ChatGPT still doesn’t know who I am. I asked it last Spring to write my biography, and it said I was a former president of Marshall with many degrees and accolades. When I asked the second time, it said I was a multisport star at Marshall University who had coached in the NFL. AI only knows what you teach it, and not all AI or Large Language Models are equal. Some are better than others, and the output will always need human oversight.
What is one professional accomplishment that is most meaningful to you and why?
I’m in the process of writing my dissertation to complete my Education Doctorate. I also won the Pickens-Queen Teacher Award last year. That award should really go to my students. Every semester they inspire me to be a better teacher.