Baruch Learning Community Students Explore Gramercy Park in Video Tours

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More than 100 students, faculty members, and staff recently gathered in a classroom in the Newman Vertical Campus to view three special homemade Baruch videos. The audience was there to witness the showing, judging, and award ceremony for videos created by students in Baruch College Learning Communities.

The February event may have lacked some of the pizzazz of the Academy Awards, but it made up for it in enthusiasm. Students cheered raucously when their favorites appeared on screen. They weren’t shy about revealing their feelings about the others, either. In the end, judges awarded prizes to LC 09, A Virtual Historic Tour of the Neighborhood; LC 20, A History Never Forgotten; and to LC 25, Mission Possible.

The evening marked the completion of a successful semester-long Learning Community program. LC students wrote, filmed, and edited videos from start-to-finish and submitted the products for judging. This year’s theme was “A Historic Walking Tour of the Neighborhood ” says Barbara Wells, director of Student Academic Services. The students spent several months roaming (and filming) the blocks around Baruch, investigating parks, armories, museums, historic landmarks, and more. They were sent out to the streets of New York with a camera and a manual and figured out the filming and editing themselves with the help of peer mentors.

According to Mark Spergel, Director of Student Orientation and Director/Coordinator of Freshman Year Incentive, “The students who participate in the video competition walk away with something they can be proud of the rest of their lives. They come away with their project-management, time-management, and team-building skills tested in ways never imagined before. Moreover, this project stretches their creativity and communication skills—all key goals for the Learning Community experience.”

The resulting films were anything but straight-forward travelogues. Each Learning Community incorporates a unique theme. The entry from LC 25, for example, uses a Mission Impossible concept in which a beleaguered student has to track down local trivia tidbits in order to win back his school books. The LC 20 video cleverly incorporates an HP photo printer’s commercial sleight-of-hand technique while exploring Madison Square Park, the Shake Shack, and the Met Life Building. In the LC 9 video the ghost of Bernard Baruch leads a group of freshman on a walking tour with stops at Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace, the statue of William Seward in Madison Square Park, and the Flatiron Building.

The semester-long exercise is meant to challenge students to work in a team, build a sense of camaraderie, and familiarize them with Baruch and the rich history of the Baruch neighborhood, says Wells. Stephanie Cheng, one of the LC 20 students who worked on the video says she had a great time. “It was a good thing, I got to meet lots of people,” she says. It was more fun than class work, Stephanie says. “Because there was no grade and no credit, it took a lot of the pressure off.” And she was thrilled with her prize: a gift voucher to purchase textbooks from the Baruch College Bookstore.

After viewing all three films, it’s hard to imagine that the students started this project with no video experience. Each of the films is polished, funny, energetic, and imaginative.