Brown recipient of Teaching Development Grant

A problem solving partnership between students of Dr. Kathy Taylor Brown's Communication 471 course and Blue Roof Technologies will be supported by a teaching development grant recently secured by Dr. Brown.

Blue Roof Technologies, a non-profit corporation based in McKeesport, uses innovation and technology in the construction of senior citizen housing within the Mon Valley. Smart houses, developed by the company, adapt to the owner's needs and requirements. These homes are single family retirement cottages which are ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant, affordable, energy efficient, and are wired to monitor the living conditions of the seniors, keeping track of their medical conditions and their overall safety.

The Teaching Development Grant secured by Brown, will support COMM 471 in promoting a participatory culture which will enhance the scope and effectiveness of the course curriculum. The course, will use "intergenerational mentoring, " giving students the opportunity to plan, design and develop several training videos and a public relations kit as part of a four-stage senior training program. In addition, Penn State Greater Allegheny students will produce audio/video pod casting and maintain a blog site focusing on their partnership experiences with the seniors.

The partnership between Blue Roof Technologies and Penn State Greater Allegheny includes the mentoring of Greater Allegheny interns from both the Corporate Communications and the Information Sciences and Technology programs, Three student interns are currently involved in this program.

Dr. Brown will be overseeing the campus' new minor in Civic and Community Engagement. She hopes her proposal for COMM 471 will be an effective way of launching the program by supporting student involvement with faculty, the university and the community. To date, students who have participated in service learning with Civic and Community engagement have assessed their experiences positively, reporting satisfaction with being able to apply the information learned in their courses to solve community problems. In the partnership with Blue Roof Technologies, Penn State Greater Allegheny students will help to train senior citizens in the use of computers and technology, making them more comfortable in the Smart House environment provided by Blue Roof, and hopefully, allowing them to continue living independently within their own homes.