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Black Hills State University mass communication students Emily Heath (far left), sophomore from Colome; and Robyn Rosechandler, sophomore from Cody, Wyo., visit with Dr. Darlene Swartz, BHSU emeritus faculty. BHSU’s mass communication program and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) are conducting an innovative social media project, designed to connect college students with area senior volunteers. The communication between the groups focuses on oral history and planning integrated activities within the community.

Black Hills State University’s mass communication program and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) are conducting an innovative social media project, designed to connect college students with area senior volunteers. The communication between the groups focuses on oral history and planning integrated activities within the community.

The students and senior volunteers will learn more about one another by communicating on Facebook, a popular communication website that hosts individual and group profiles, blogs, email, wall postings, and other informal means of conversation. This form of communication allows the groups to form community relationships and develop a real understanding of one another despite the generation gap, through modern communication.

The project was introduced to BHSU students in Interviewing for the Mass Media and Basic News Writing courses during the spring 2009 semester. Students in these courses are working with the (RSVP) seniors. The fall semester will incorporate students from the Basic News Writing and Public Relations courses into the program. The project is expected to expand into the social media stage. Training will be included in all of the involved classes. This project currently features about 35 students and RSVP volunteers.

Dr.Mary Caton-Rosser, BHSU assistant professor of mass communication, is directing the incorporation of the social media project. She is excited about the project and is hopeful of a positive outcome that “will contribute to the formation of a new student organization on campus that will realize the benefits of social media that leads to service learning and voluntary activity in the local to global community.”

For additional information regarding the project, contact Caton-Rosser at 642-6422 or email MaryCatonRosser@BHSU.edu. For information regarding the RSVP, contact Nancy Wietgrefe, director of RSVP, at 642-5198 or RSVP@BHSU.edu.