Chicago Business School levels the playing field

Check out this excerpt from Michael McVey’s post at LeaderTalk. So very, very sad…

‘I read that the prestigious University of Chicago Business School will accept four-slide presentations
from applicants to their program. Just as I was about to lament the
technology gap between Colleges of Education and Business Schools, a
few lines deep in the article caught my eye:

Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions for
the school’s full-time MBA program said, "The slides will be printed
and placed in each applicant’s file for review, which means all the
bells and whistles such as Flash, video clips, embedded music and
hyperlinks won’t be considered in the evaluation process," she said.
"This clearly levels the playing field for everyone."

began to feel a little lightheaded. What the Business School was doing
not only leveled the field, it flattened it, cropped it, and sucked the
very creativity out of it. This, I believe, is the pitch-black and
dizzying chasm, the point at which the world of the digital native
meets the world of the digital immigrant and they stand in stark
contrast to each other.

‘This is the difference between a butterfly in the wild and one
pinned to a board in a display case. As a method of gauging the
creative energy of an applicant to your program, making a four-slide
presentation might be a good start. However, when you evaluate this
creativity based upon two dimensional screen captures devoid of the
very creative energy you sought to assess, you might as well have
students submit their test scores and forego the technology charade.’

8 Responses to “Chicago Business School levels the playing field”

  1. Scott,

    Doesn’t surprise me a bit. Schools of all sizes and shapes are dummying down their programs to the level of the general population. Disturbing isn’t it? Preach creativity and then dummy down so any creativity is stifled. Sad but oh so true…

  2. Amen! It seems a typical response from a system that would have no idea what to do with a creative, engaging portfolio in the first place. Traditional education values quantitative measurement over quality every time. ugh

  3. Yeah I’m depressed too. The University of Chicago has done something rather ingenious here and it’s gone unrewarded so far by the school change movement.

    I mean I realize how easy it must’ve been to arrive at these conclusions. A large, lumbering administration strikes down all but the most linear presentation tools and allows only four slides at that?

    But it _is_ ingenious. It deserved a long-form post at my blog ( but, in short, this is form meeting content meeting social good all in one decision exemplifying the maxim that “less is more.”

  4. My post was, I believe, clearly aimed at the distortion of a four-slide presentation into a paper print.

    Such a rendering of the original product, whether by a “lumbering institution” or a sophomore English teacher, for the purpose of evaluation is not ingenious. It is a waste of time.

  5. I’m hard pressed for the appropriate analogy here.

    Look, the _best_ four-slide presentation will function _just_ as well printed on paper. That single constraint ensures bullet points won’t breed across slides like rabbits. It ensures that no one will confuse wacky “twirl” transitions with engaging design. That constraint puts Content and Form into separate boxes and says, do well by each of them but don’t confuse them.

    We can debate whether or not UC stumbled into this great design assignment accidentally or ingeniously. I still find this dogpile depressing.

    These posts crowd around in my reader. Over there they’ve banned iPods. No cell phones over here. My district blocked YouTube. Etc. A lot of this is legitimate commiseration. A lot of this is elitism. I try to leave you guys to your clubhouse but on this occasion you’re kicking around the wrong mark.

  6. By the way, we’re having a great conversation about this over at Dan’s blog!

  7. Guys,

    I understand your arguments about creativity and butterflies in the wild but I think that leveling a playing field is important to give a chance for admission to those who didn’t have it before.

    Nowadays they have invented computers, 3D graphics, videoclips, etc. but go to a museum and look at the paintings of let’s say 16-17 centuries – aren’t they beautiful? They didn’t have any of the contemporary tools but the world still admires them.

    Of course, it is more complicated to convey what you want to say on some printed slides but here comes the real creativity.

    Any comments are welcome !

    Andy Moore
    School Teacher

  8. To Andy Moore (the guy above me)
    Creativity nowadays comes from sites like but when you make something like that you will need the skills to use programs like photoshop. Its exactly the same as whereas in the 16-17 centurys they first had to learn how to use a bruh and paint. When you know the tools you can, with creativity make art, make art. I dont mind to learn something about those paintings and I do like them but what bothers is that we dont learn anything of the tools of today.

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