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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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3 Moral Competence


“If moral behavior were simply following rules, we could program a computer to be moral.” - Samuel P. Ginder, US navy captain As discussed in the last chapter, social competence does not prescribe certain values per se, as the relevant social norms depend on the context and on the group in a given situation. In this chapter, the concept of social competence shall be concretized on moral issues as this is one basis for human rights educa- tion.81 As opposed to social competence, most authors try to find moral values that are universal and do not depend on single groups that define norms. How- ever, whereas some writers suggest universal 'imperatives' or 'ethic axioms' such as truth, justice, and the value of human life,82 others argue for a more relativis- tic position saying that even these 'imperatives' vary in meaning, importance, and application in a given situation.83 Studies such as the one conducted by Shweder, Mahapatra and Miller seem to show a lot of disagreement about what 81 See chapter 4.1 for a more detailed definition of human rights education, including mor- al, judicial and political components. See chapter 4.5 for a broader discussion of the relationship between social competence, moral competence and human rights education. 82 The most prominent advocate in the area of moral development is of course Lawrence Kohlberg. Cf. for example: Kohlberg, Lawrence (1981). The Philosophy of Moral De- velopment. Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice. San Francisco et al: Harper & Row. Especially page...

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