Rhetoric of “Virtual Promise” by Claire Giordano

Online courses are becoming more and more popular in the contemporary world because of rapid technological development. Claire Giordano, a student, wrote a persuasive essay, “Virtual Promise: Why Online Courses Will Not Adequately Prepare Us for the Future,” where she discusses the pros and cons of taking online courses. She also incorporated credible evidence to support the ideas of why she believes that it is not a good idea. Cleverly combining useful structure, language means, and various rhetoric strategies such as logos, ethos, and pathos, Giordano effectively convinces her audience that online education might be not the most suitable option.

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To begin with, one should note that the intended audience of this essay is most likely the group of people who are planning to enroll in school and considering taking an online course. There are a few reasons why those young adults who have just finished their high schools are considered the target audience. Firstly, the topic of the essay that refers to higher education allows people to suppose that this piece of writing is aimed at the given age group. Secondly, the author is a college student and a representative of young adults; that is why the essay that is essential for her should be significant for other people of her age. Finally, Giordano provides an example of her sister, who was a high school student. This example indicates that the essay is suitable for people of that age. Thus, the information above proves that young adults are considered the intended audience of Giordano’s work.

The author has made her essay suit the audience above by mentioning arguments that might be more useful for them. On the one hand, the information about landing a job and building a successful career is more beneficial for the graduates. Besides, Giordano says that online courses might be cheaper, make higher education more accessible for various groups, and, therefore, contribute to equality. Since younger groups of society tend to have less money and not everyone can afford to enroll in a decent school, the topic of an alternative way to get a higher education is useful for them. On the other hand, the purpose of the essay is to state that online classes have a few disadvantages, which makes the author appeal to counter-arguments. She talks about how taking classes online do not adequately prepare people for the future as they do not help to develop critical thinking skills, which are crucial in the workforce (Giordano par. 7). Thus, the author’s idea is convincing, but it is interesting to see how specifically the author delivers it to the readers.

As has been mentioned, it is a persuasive essay, which influences the author’s style, essay structure, and the use of evidence. Here, the author’s style is represented by all those linguistic means that were used to make readers believe her argument. Furthermore, Giordano structures her essay to achieve its primary purpose. For example, she presents the arguments of both supporters and opponents of online courses, but the length of paragraphs is determining. It refers to the fact that the author uses longer sections to introduce her counter-arguments. It has an inevitable impact on the use of evidence because these longer paragraphs include more credible arguments against online education. In addition to that, the essay begins directly with introducing the topic, while the concluding paragraph summarizes the content.

Since the essay is aimed at young adults, it should be relatively easy to read and understand. That is why Giordano uses mainly general vocabulary, including such words as “importance,” “weaknesses,” and “online classes” (Giordano par. 8). At the same time, to make her essay more academic, she uses specific terms, such as “nurtures” and “compelling” (Giordano par. 4). As for sentence length, the author has written many long sentences that represent complex ideas. This information denotes that the essay is aimed at young adults who, however, should have decent mental abilities to comprehend Giordano’s thoughts.

To make her statements clear and logical, the author uses logos. Giordano opens the introductory paragraph with the statistics on how many students took online courses in 2012 (par. 1). She uses these facts to show that taking classes via the Internet is very popular now. To convince the readers that taking an online course is worse than choosing a conventional way of getting an education, the author uses logical reasoning. For example, Giordano mentions that “online learning lacks the challenging interactions that develop our ability to reason, to think creatively, and to work collaboratively” (par. 8). Furthermore, the presentation of the evidence contributes to a logical structure because the readers understand that appropriate counter-arguments will follow every argument for online courses. For example, paragraph 9 that supposes that online education will develop technological proficiency among students is followed by paragraphs 10 and 11 that deny this idea.

The logical presentation above is possible when the author manages to persuade the readers that her ideas and sources are reliable, credible, and trustworthy, and ethos is helpful to achieve this effect. On the one hand, Giordano mentions that she is “an environmental studies major” (par. 1). This fact demonstrates that Giordano has some experience in the topic and that her words are reliable. On the other hand, the author provides additional information on the people whose opinions or findings she uses and explains why their thoughts are trustworthy. For example, when she cites Dr. Hershey Friedman, Giordano emphasizes that he is “a business professor at Brooklyn College, who is widely published on the use of technology and media in education” (par. 2). The readers see that this person has a lot of knowledge and experience in the topic because he has a doctoral degree. Another example is the use of Thomas Friedman’s words because this specialist is a “Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist” (Giordano par. 4). The fact that he has this award might make him more reliable for the audience.

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In addition to that, pathos plays an essential role in the essay. Since this rhetorical strategy refers to using emotions, Giordano includes them in her piece of writing to persuade the readers. For example, she indicates that critical thinking is necessary to address the problems of the whole world, such as poverty, water shortages, toxic environment, and others (Giordano par. 7). By mentioning these adverse phenomena, Giordano evokes readers’ emotions to make them involved in the topic. As a result, the readers regret the tragic fate of the whole world and better understand the importance of the issue under consideration. Moreover, the writer refers to the situation that occurred to her sister, for whom online courses were “a godsend” as she was unable to physically attend school for a semester (Giordano par. 4). This personal example is another useful way for the writer to appeal to the emotions, sympathies, and values of the audience. Giordano uses pathos because the emotional language might be very influential and contribute to the goal of persuasion. Thus, the examples above prove that Giordano has used this rhetorical strategy in her essay.

Furthermore, additional analysis is necessary to estimate how much the author’s angle of vision or interpretive filter dominates the text. It can seem that the author presents the opinions of other people concerning the given topic, but she still has her own attitude concerning the problem. It is expressed in the introductory paragraph, where Giordano states that “online courses are not the best way to educate students” and introduces significant reasons for this (par. 1). In other words, Giordano clearly states her opinion and does not change the angle of her vision throughout the text. It is supported by the concluding paragraph, where the author summarizes her ideas by stating that all possible positive consequences of online courses “come at too high a price” (Giordano par. 12). Based on the information above, one can mention that Giordano’s opinion concerning the subject has made her emphasize the negative consequences of using online education. At the same time, her angle of vision did not make her omit the opposing points of view.

To conclude, Giordano did an excellent job by creating a persuasive essay with a strong thesis statement, clear opinion, and detailed arguments supported by credible evidence, own experience, and logical reasoning. The author perfectly combined logos, ethos, and pathos to make her writing more persuasive. She chose the right language style and the most suitable sentence length for her target audience. This essay is very informative and useful for potential students. Furthermore, it might be helpful if they have to make a decision on whether to take online courses or choose a traditional way of studying.

Work Cited

Giordano, Claire. “Virtual Promise: Why Online Courses Will Not Adequately Prepare Us for the Future.”

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