You knew it would happen. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the University of Chicago Business School will now require prospective students to submit a 4 slide PowerPoint deck with their applications. The idea is to allow the applicants to express their creativity in a way that is not always discernible in more traditional application materials.
Some of my colleagues would see this as a sign of the forthcoming apocalypse. I see it as a tremendous opportunity.
We should be encouraging students to use other media for completing the learning objectives of our courses. Why should students always have to complete the traditional term paper? I’m not saying that research papers don’t have their place in a well-rounded undergraduate curriculum. They do. Its just that other media are important means for student expression and knowledge dissemination as well. Just as Gardner’s work on the seven intelligences has made us more aware of a variety of student learning styles, shouldn’t it also make us more sensitive to a variety of student “writing” styles? In my Kentucky Politics class last semester, I encouraged students to consider making a documentary, a flash animation film, a machinima, hyperlinked essay or other non-traditional presentation method for their final research project. To my pleasant surprise, several of them did choose to do this, and the results were fantastic. Some combined these methods with a traditional research paper to create true multimedia projects.
I’ll be doing more of this with my students this fall, and I hope other faculty will follow suit.