Cause in a Classroom is a 501© (3) nonprofit that integrates academic, creative and professional-development skills sets that higher education students use for authentic community engagement and real-world professional development. This consequential engagement is documented by the students on social media platforms, which serve to showcase their service-learning accomplishments as they prepare for employment, internships and additional academic pathways.
This video highlights a service-learning program, SLATE (Serivce Learning Aimed Towards Employment) that was designed and implemented
by Al Leibman, CUNY instructor, for the SEEK Department, Brooklyn College. The students apply their emerging professional skills sets by supporting local nonprofit organizations. Al shot this video on his iphone with budget lighting and audio equipment, a skill set that he trains his students to use in order to help them visually showcase their accomplishments on their Linkedin profiles and to provide video promos for the organizations that they serve.
The SLATE teams develop business communication and leadership skills, as well as designing their own Linkedin Profile to represent themselves professionally. In team's, they work closely with their assigned organizations to fulfill their
project-based responsibilities to make a contribution that outlasts their required engagement.
College Preparation and Career-Ready Components of Cause in a Classroom
In addition to developing leadership skills, other
soft skills that are emphasized include, teamwork, business communication, conflict-resolution and problem-solving skills. These integrated skill sets are necessary for successful engagement with their projects and strengthens their qualifications for a technologically evolving job market. According to the National Academy of Colleges and Employers, “the top 5 skills/attributes employers are seeking in candidates are leadership, team work, strong written communications, problem solving and work ethic.”
With the instructor's guidance and assessment criteria established, the students are assigned to present Linkedin workshops to help their peers professionally represent themselves on this platform. At the end of the service-learning program, the students add a link to their multimedia engagement with their assigned organization on their Linkedin profile and design their own business cards, which lists their unique Linkedin address. During the semester, Facebook Group Pages are used to document the teams' engagement with their organization. This approach adds accountability and transparency to their project-based work.
During their service-learning engagement, the students write a recommendation report that identifies an issue that challenges their organization and then design a practical solution to address it. This identification of an issue and the design of a problem-solving solution has consequential and real-world results, which further motivates the students to strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills.
Multimedia-research team projects are assigned that visually compliment their Recommendation Report for the organization that they serve. The multimedia projects integrate text, video, photos and slides, which are showcased on social-media platforms for professional purposes, such as Linkedin. Workshops on video, photography and video editing are offered to support the students. The multimedia projects serve offer creative opportunities to present a solution to real-world issues. These digital technology skills serve to showcase the students' critical thinking, team work and leadership skills. Those competencies help prepare them for college-level engagement and the labor market.
Multimedia-Research Projects develop critically important soft and hard-skill sets for professional and personal development.
In our Critical Thinking class at Brooklyn College in 2017, the students were assigned a multimedia-research project that focused on the challenges they faced as incoming freshman. The students used social media platforms to document and showcase their engagement with these assigned projects. We integrating their hard skills" (i.e., reading and writing) with developing their "soft skills," such as leadership, teamwork and conflict-resolution development. Length of video:5 min.
The Course Academics are Applied by Serving Others.
In our Critical Thinking class at BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY), the freshman students applied their course academics by helping clients at local nonprofits. This 5-min. video documents the students' engagement with social media platforms that showcased their engagement and self-empowering accomplishments.
Crowdsourcing Campaign Workshops
On a personal note, I recently ran a GoFundMe campaign for a former student who was battling cancer with limited health coverage. I used my iphone videography and storytelling skills to help raise $2000. This level of consequential engagement has helped me to realize that these skill sets can be taught to students who want to run their own crowdsourcing campaigns to support sick patients who are financially burdened or raise donations for community projects that will benefit their neighborhoods. I am currently seeking partnerships with nonprofits to help make this happen. This level of compassionate engagement can provide the students with life-altering contributions accompanied by
job-readiness skill sets that can be visually showcased.
My former student, Socorro, encouraged me to use this video and to establish this mutually beneficial program. The complete GoFundme campaign can be seen here.
A Leibman has taught students at CUNY (BMCC, Brooklyn College and John Jay College) for the past 12 years. During that time, his teaching methodology has evolved towards integrating both soft and hard skills into his department's curriculum to help his students develop academically and professionally.
In addition to passionately exploring innovative methods to provide college students relevant and socially consequential assignments, he's the owner of WideEyemedia.nyc, a small video production business. He established this small business after working as a full-time TV-news field cameraman/editor/producer (NBC affiliate stations in Sioux Falls and Atlantic City) and as a freelance studio cameraman on live news shows at MSNBC and CNN. Most importantly, he is using his video-skill sets to help promote the SLATE program and to run workshops for Brooklyn College students that show them how to visually showcase their academic and professional achievements on social media platforms.
He has shot, edited and produced short documentaries that have appeared in film festivals. He is currently teaching iphone videography workshops, as that skill set is increasingly in demand for professional and academic purposes as video explodes on all of the social media platforms.
When he's not working, he can often be found enjoying warm and cold water swims with his pals at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, or as its affectionately called, “The medicinal waters off the coast of Southern Brooklyn".