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BHSU students and faculty present at service learning conference

Black Hills State University mass communication student, Robyn Rosechandler, from Cody, Wyo., visits with Dr. Darlene Swartz, BHSU emeritus faculty, as part of the “Intergeneration Service Learning” project. The project was developed to promote the positive use of social media to identify and stimulate service learning opportunities in the community.

Three Black Hills State University students and their advisor, Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, assistant professor of mass communication, recently presented at the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education Conference in Crete, Neb.

Student Project Leaders, Brian Gebhart, senior mass communication major from Elkton; Tristen Upward, junior mass communication major from Vermillion; and David Poitra, senior mass communication major from Belle Fourche; along with Caton-Rosser presented “Building Community Through Social Media.”

The presentation focused on an on-going project, “Intergenerational Service Learning,” that was started two years ago to bridge the generation gap with the use of social media. “Intergenerational Service Learning” emphasizes that social media provides platforms for interactive learning and community-building if a flexible infrastructure of rules of netiquette, professionalism, and engagement are applied.

Part of the project’s success is from the collaboration of the BHSU Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the BHSU Office of Civic Engagement. “Intergenerational Service Learning” matches BHSU RSVP senior citizens with BHSU students to develop intergenerational relationships to promote the positive use of social media to identify and stimulate service learning opportunities in communities. Collaboration efforts center on issues in the community as well as national and global issues and their impact.

“We discuss issues and then try to come up with pragmatic solutions to the issues” said Caton-Rosser.
“Positive leadership, guidance, and embracing a diverse learning community contributes to the success of this serious social media learning activity taking place between BHSU classrooms and the community,” notes Caton-Rosser.

The active online community now has about 125 “residents” including students, RSVP members, faculty/staff, local citizens, and others interested in service learning and activism in community. With the sponsorship of Pearson Higher Education, the project will continue the next three years.

For additional information regarding the project, contact Caton-Rosser at 642-6422 or email or visit

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