Specializations

Technology & Communication

This specialization belongs to the master's programme Communication Studies.

What is Technology & Communication?

Technology is everywhere. We cannot imagine our society without technology anymore; almost everyone uses a smartphone, technological devices are central to the daily routine in many jobs, every household is full of technological products to make our lives easier or more pleasant, patients in the health care system find themselves confronted with the latest medical technology, and the industry is continuously working to develop new technological products. In such a highly technologised society, studying how people interact with technology and how they communicate about technology is more important than ever.

Scholars in Technology & Communication combine a thorough understanding of the role of technology in our society and in the individual lives of technology users with knowledge about the users and knowledge about how to communicate with and about technological products. Although professionals in this field are not programmers or designers of technologies, they have an affinity with these adjacent areas of study. They act as intermediaries between the developers of technological products and their (potential) users and they act as the user’s advocates in development processes of technological products. Their goals are that the intended users of new technological products can use these products effectively and efficiently (the usability of the products is high) and that the users have a positive experience using the product.

In this master specialization, we explore the academic field of Technology & Communication from several angles. 

First, we explore how people make use of technologies and what the effects are on their daily life and on their work. Questions we address are:

• Why do people accept and adopt some new technological products almost immediately and some others not? How is this process of acceptance and adoption related to characteristics of the technology or of the (potential) users?

• How are new technological products used? How do people appropriate technologies so that these products fit into their lives or jobs? 

Second, we study how people learn to use new technologies and what support they need while learning to use them. Questions we address are:

• How do people get acquainted with new technological products? How does this formal or (more often) informal learning process look like? 

• What types of information do people use when learning to use a new technological product? And what types of information do they use when they encounter a problem while using a product? Do they ask other people, do they read the help files, do they use a user forum, or call the help desk? 

• How should the information sources people rely on while using a new technological be designed? What information should specific groups of intended users (such as highly skilled professionals, elderly, low literate people) be provided with so that they can make optimal use of a product? 

Third, we study the design process of new technologies, focused on the role of a communication specialist in this process. Questions we address are: 

• How does an optimal design process look like and what is the role of a communication specialist in such a process? 

• What are the benefits of human-centered design processes compared to more traditional design processes? How can potential users be involved in the design process? What benefits does involving the user in the design process have on the final design of the product? 

• Which human-centered design methods can be used in the design process? What are the benefits and challenges of these methods?

Programme structure

Specialization courses:

First semester

  • Human-Centered Design
  • Contemporary User Support Practices
  • Work and Technology

Second semester

  • Social Implications of the Internet
  • Contemporary User Support Practices
  • Innovative Digital Public Services

Note: The range of specialization courses and the block in which the courses are offered may vary from one academic year to the next. No rights may be derived from the information.

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