Abandonment of Old Ways for New Teachings – A Response to Daphne Koller

December 3rd, 2020

As our world globally improves with new technologies, discoveries, and techniques in how we approach different tasks, it’s becoming clear that many of our old traditions in education are becoming dated. No longer is it feasible to have only a few thousand people attend a single college, like it was only a hundred or so years ago. With global improvement, the average rate of educated people has greatly increased, and as a result, millions of more people have the proper level of education to attend college and succeed. As a result of there being a lack of space and teachers in many colleges, as well as the abundance of readily available technology, Daphne Koller has called to attention the usage of online learning. Recently, Stanford University created an online education system where a near unlimited amount of people can pay to attend classes, do homework, and receive graded work with comments. About 640,000 students from across the world attend these classes, listening to online lectures to fit their own schedules and receiving certificates for completing these classes — Of which can be used in job applications or for college credit at other universities. In Daphne Koller’s TED talk, she details how an online classroom environment allows thousands of people to attend a single class, and all receive the same amount of care and attention. Through the usage of having students peer-review each other’s works, or their own work using a grading rubric, each student will have someone read their work and receive personalized feedback. Unlike a regular classroom of 100 people, where if 1% failed that would only mean 10 people failed and the issue may be ignored, in a classroom of a few hundred thousand 1% could mean thousands of students, and thus the issue can be brought to attention if that many people failed to answer it correctly. While the traditional lecture-based classroom technique may be better for some people, for it does hold unique strengths that assist the student in paying attention to the work and discourages procrastination, the new online education system may prove to be significantly stronger in ensuring a larger number of people receive a college-level education.

Daphne Koller leans heavily into logic in order to create persuasive arguments. Using the idea of logos, pathos, and ethos — Which is the usage of logic, emotions, and sense of credibility in arguments — we can carefully dissect how exactly Daphne Koller creates an extremely persuasive argument for her TED Talk. In terms of logic, Daphne Koller lists numerous studies which support the usage of online education, stating the vast number of students enrolled, how each one receives personalized criticism, and that it’s able to reach all places across the globe allowing anyone to enroll. By stating that she is from Stanford University, and as per extension the online education system was created by Stanford University, she is establishing herself as a powerful and credible speaker, for Stanford University is a highly prestigious school. For emotion, while this TED Talk lacks an extremely strong emotional argument or example, she connects to the idea near the end of her speech that the usage of online education can perhaps bring forth new-age geniuses from countries that may not have easy access to college education, such as Africa. With such a heavy focus on logos and ethos, the logic and credibility forming parts of a cohesive argument, Daphne Koller already forms a highly persuasive argument for the benefits of online learning, without really needing to establish an emotional connection.

As a future writer, and possibly a future journalist, this TED Talk proves to be invaluable in how it formulates its arguments. The strengths of having a solid sense of credibility as well as a fantastic logistical argument is proven to be crucial in this, as these two subjects alone carry the argument without really having a solid sense of emotion injected within. This TED Talk is a great insight in the delicate balance of formulating a great argument, the juggle of ensuring that you as a speaker is credible, connecting to your audience in some fashion, as well as giving logic to give your argument factual knowledge to convince your audience. I plan on taking this knowledge with me in my future, and perhaps using this TED Talk as a reminder on how to formulate a good argument.

-Aaron Wells

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