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Improving Social Competence via e-Learning?

The Example of Human Rights Education

Sandra Reitz

This book analyses whether improving social competence via e-learning is possible at all. Therefore, an e-learning program for human rights education is developed and evaluated with pre- and post-tests. Social competences as well as human rights education are often divided into areas of «cognition», «attitudes» and «behaviour». In order to achieve the pedagogical goals, all three areas have to be considered. In contrast to the cognitive area, the attitudinal and behavioral areas pose a particular challenge: so far, hardly any programs exist that explicitly consider these areas – most e-learning programs focus on the dissemination of knowledge. Thanks to the participation of over one hundred learners, some generalizing conclusions can be drawn from this program.

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1 Introduction

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“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” - Edmund Burke (1729-1797) E-learning – electronic learning or learning with a computer –1has been re- searched for several years now, and the “hype” about how it can decrease costs and at the same time revolutionize learning has calmed down. Although people have realized that e-learning can be expensive and that not all e-learning pro- grams fit all needs, it is still gaining importance. The fact that knowledge can be acquired through e-learning is not questioned anymore. The question is whether e-learning can also foster attitudes and skills (i.e., influence the emotional and behavioral area). Programs, let alone evaluative research, in this area are still very rare. The field of social competence, and, more narrowly, human rights education, has been chosen to place this theoretical question into practice. An e-learning program in this area is being developed and evaluated as part of this thesis. Social competence has become an almost meaningless buzzword for profes- sional and even private advertisements encompassing simply likable behavior. On the other hand, it reveals the general consensus that pure knowledge (or only cognitive skills) is not the only factor for success in the professional, but also private, life. Therefore, the term social competence seems well-suited to de- scribe a focus on attitudinal and behavioral skills. This will be investigated fur- ther in the second chapter. News about mobbing and violence in school, or even more tragic events such as...

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