Module 5: The network society

In this first module of the second year, we dive into the role of new media in our society. On one side, we will discuss the characteristics of the networked society, and explore how the digital world is shaped by social, economic, and political forces with a special interest in the question who is in contact with each other behind the scenes. On the other side, students will look into the effects of the digital media landscape on our society, in terms of political gain, individual privacy, economy, democratization of the internet, culture, and trust. Topics of interest include for example fake news, social media addiction and online privacy violations. Students are trained as new-media educators by creating a documentary about the dynamics of the digitalized and networked society. They will acquire audiovisual design and storytelling skills in order to create a documentary that looks professional and is engaging. 

This module includes four components:

P: The media educators

T: The digital society

R: Big data & network analysis

S: Audio-visual design & storytelling

5 Project: The media educators

Based on input from both the Theory and Research component, as well as desk-research and expert interviews, in this module component students are trained as new-media educators by creating a documentary. Students learn to analyse (big) data through network analysis and may, for example investigate the relations and interactions between the groups behind a social phenomenon such as the coronavirus issue or the manipulation of national elections. The documentary is aimed at directly or indirectly influencing the target audience’s awareness, knowledge, attitude and/or behaviour with regards to the selected theme.

5 THEORY: THE DIGITAL SOCIETY

In this component students will learn about developments of the digitalized society, as well as the implications of the new media on society and itsindividuals. The theories describe 1) the forces that drive the development of the digital environment and social networks, and 2) how the digital environment and social networks affect our society on a group, as well as on an individual level. Topics that will be discussed include, among others, the economy and politics as drivers of the digital society, effects of the digital society on the way we process information, effects of the digital society on marketing communication outcomes, and how the digital society influences individual privacy and autonomy. Students will get familiarized with these theories by means of topical themes, such as robotization, fake news, privacy violations and inclusiveness.

5 Research: Big data & network analysis

“Big Data”, coming from social media, Google, smart phones, log-files and all kinds of registrations create a digital trace. In the digitalized society, big data is an important tool to gain insights in people’s behaviours. In this part of the module, the focus is on various techniques and methodologies that can be applied for big data analysis, including regression, machine learning, text mining, and big data analytics in R. In addition, student will learn to visualize and analyse data using network analysis and apply these skills to acquire input for their documentary.

5 Skills: Audio-visual design & storytelling

In order to develop a professional documentary, obtaining the necessary audio-visual design skills, as well as applying engaging storytelling techniques is of importance. After students select a theme of interest, they will develop a project execution plan. The plan contains a description of the topic of interest, a justification of its relevance, a storyline (including audio-visual design elements), a role division and a planning.

Module 6: Lead the change

Innovation drives the modern organization. We are entering a new industrial revolution and automation is starting to take over cognitive tasks as well. Therefore, much like in the first industrial revolution, the role of humans is again being rapidly redefined. This module addresses the question of what the organisation of the future may look like and how communication processes can be optimized in these modern organisations. This is relevant as organisations are changing in many ways: traditional structures are being replaced by more flexible ways of organising, while new work based technologies, ICTs, and applications are making it possible for employees to work when, how, and where they want. Other organisations are seeking to run their businesses using self-managing teams, without hierarchical managers that lead employees. But how do people identify with a virtual organization when there is no physical space in which to meet colleagues face-to-face? What does leadership mean in organizations with self-managing teams? How do new work-based technologies affect collaboration between employees, their work attitudes, and optimal functioning? In this module, students will get acquainted with the changing roles of different internal stakeholders of organizations (e.g., CEOs, change managers, corporate communication managers, HR-managers, and marketing managers).

This module includes four components:

P: Change management

T: Organizational communication

R: In-depth interview

S: Literature review & consultancy

6 Project: Change management

In this module component, students learn how to provide consultation by means of a management summary and a professional workshop. First of all, based on the interviews that are conducted in the Research component, the first Project assignment concerns a research report in which the most important results are explained on the implementation, use, or management of a technological innovation in an organisation within one of the following domains: education, governmental institutions, or healthcare. Subsequently, each project group writes a management summary. Both the research report and the management summary form the input for a professional workshop, in which the findings of the research report are interactively presented and in which participants (teachers and fellow students) can practice with knowledge and skills regarding the topic of the research.

6 Theory: Organizational communication

In this module component, students learn how new technologies fundamentally change(d) the businesses of organisations and their ways of organising. Students study how employees make sense of technological changes, how they talk about these changes, and how they organise their responses (e.g., resistance to change or appropriation of technologies). Weick’s organising theory and structuration theory are two important theories in this sense. Next to that, students get acquainted with literature on how change affects several organisational processes like leadership, innovation, decision-making, and change management. In order to assess the students’ level of understanding of the abovementioned topics, students do an individual essay exam.

6 Research: In-depth interview

In this module component, students learn how to perform in-depth interviews, as well as how to analyse the qualitative data using the software package Atlas-ti and report the outcomes of these interviews in a professional manner. In the first weeks of the module, students write an individual research proposal on a topic that is related to the implementation, use, or management of an innovation in organizations. Based on the topics of these individual research proposals, small groups of students are composed and in the second part of the module, each group creates one combined qualitative research proposal, based on the individual research proposals of the different team members. Subsequently, each team member performs at least two in-depth interviews, so that rich and a large amount of information is gathered.

6 Skills: Literature review & consultancy

In this module component, students learn how to write an academic literature review. A literature review is an objective and thorough overview of relevant and current research literature on a topic being studied. In this case, the topic relates to the impact of technological change on organisations. This writing assignment is an individual assignment. The literature that is discussed in the Theory module component serves as relevant input for this writing assignment. At the same time, the literature review can be used as a starting point for the research proposal and the management summary.

Module 7: Persuasive design

The impact of design goes way beyond beauty and pleasure and can have a large impact on human experience and behaviour. Hence, design plays an ever-bigger role in behaviour change initiatives. Think of a trashcan making sound or emitting scent when you interact with it, or stairs designed (and sounding) like a piano in order to seduce people to take the stairs instead of the escalator, for example. Persuasive technology offers great opportunities to use visual design cues or nudges in a flexible, adjustable way, or to give them a multi-sensory and interactive character. In addition, new technologies may help us with simulating environments. Think of VR technology in which an indoor (e.g., a hospital) or outdoor (e.g., a park) environment can be simulated and presented in an immersive manner using VR glasses or large projections. This is important, as it is not always feasible to manipulate or change existing environments. Furthermore, VR environments may offer additional means for tracking and monitoring behaviours and physiological responses such as heart rate measurements and eye tracking. In this module, students will learn about the roles that design can play in ‘design for behaviour change’ programs and learn about the underlying dynamics and processes (e.g., conscious versus unconscious processes and the role of social influences) involved in nudging. Based on these insights, students will come up with a design for a behaviour change intervention in a real setting or test effects of design elements/ nudges in a simulated environment.

This module includes four components:

P: Persuasive environment

T: Social psychology & interactive tech

R: Experimental design & analysis

S: Scientific report & animation design

7 Project: Persuasive environment

This module component prepares students for a job after study as for example a digital marketer or designer. The core of the project is testing the effects of a self-designed virtual reality (VR) or animation intervention aimed at promoting a more healthy lifestyle. Following the different stages in this process, the project consists of several parts. First, based on insights from literature, students, in duos, will set up their 360/VR video to enhance physical or mental health. 360/VR videos are useful tools for creating immersive, multisensory environments. What motivates (and de-motivates) people to be more active and exercise better? And which mental states are important for realizing behaviour change? In other words, how can we create a virtual (immersive) environment that enhances physical activity and mental health. Second, students, based on the skills gained in the Research component, will test the effectiveness of their intervention in an experimental design. To finalize the project, students, based on the skills gained in the Skills component, report their findings in an academic journal article following all the steps of academic reporting, and present their work in poster-format at a scientific conference.

7 Theory: Social psychology & interactive tech

In this module component, students gain insight into the relevant theories in the fields of multisensory design, interactive marketing and social psychology with a focus on the following topics: healing environments/ restorative environments., design for behaviour change, marketing communication, persuasive technology, human-technology interaction, consumer psychology, and visual communication. The acquired theoretical knowledge and insights will be tested through an individual written, open-ended exam.

7 Research: Experimental design & analysis

Following up on the first year’s module component ‘Survey analysis’ (Module 2: Understanding media), students will become acquainted with the different types of statistical tests for multi-group comparisons (including ANOVA and regression analyses). These are quantitative experimental research tools which allow comparisons between two or more groups. For instance, students may compare behaviours in a group of participants who are exposed to their design intervention with behaviours of participants in a control group (in which no design intervention was present). Furthermore, students will learn how to control for variables not part of the research set-up. For instance, how to control for weather conditions when conducting research outside? The aim in this module is to pre-test and measure the effectiveness of behaviours induced by persuasive technology. Students will come to understand that depending on the type of measurement, different statistical tests will be feasible. The acquired knowledge and insights will be used in the project and furthermore tested through an individual assignment.

7 Skills: Scientific report & animation design

This module component consists of two parts. First, students will report the study that they conducted in the Project component in an APA-style research article in which they report on the relevant literature, methodology used, main findings, and discussion of these findings. Second, students will present the results of their research project during an academic research symposium in a poster session.

Module 8: The quantified self

At the end of the second year students will individually examine modern society with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. More specifically, we are interested in humanity's relationship with technology by analysing how existing data of our current behaviours can be used to predict future behaviours. If we analyse and combine people’s media use (Netflix and socials), consumer behaviour (supermarket bonus card) and mobility behaviour (traveling card), can we predict one’s attitude (regarding societal issues like global and sustainable awareness), or even behaviour (partner choice, success in working life, criminal activity) or even life expectancy? In the long run, will technology be a blessing or are we heading towards a futuristic dystopia?

In this module, based data science, ethical and philosophical paradigms, discussion and debate, students will elaborate on the future of society and tech.

This module includes four components:

P: Reflection on the future of tech

T: Ethics & philosophy

R: Big data & statistical learning

S: Rhetoric & debate

 8P: Reflection on the future of tech

In this module component, students will identify and analyse a societal challenge individually and take a standpoint. Based on philosophical paradigms, ethics, own big data analysis, and rhetoric and debate, students will argue what future human-tech interaction might look like. Outputs will be an essay and an opinion article.

8T: Ethics & philosophy

In this module component, students will receive the tools for structured reflections with a focus on philosophical schools of thinking about social reality, technology and ethics.

8R: Big data & statistical learning

Statistical learning theory deals with the problem of finding a predictive function based on data. In this module component, students will analyse existing data sets and will try to predict future behaviours and situations.

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