Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen

prof. dr.ing.

  • 1804 Citations
  • 22 h-Index
20062019
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Personal profile

Personal profile

As a scholar at the University of Twente, I work in three lines of research (digital inequality, digital skills to participate in the information and network society, and 21st-century skills at work) with the overarching theme of digital inclusion. Within debates concerning social inequality, inclusive societies, or the grand challenge of well-being, it is my goal to evaluate the contribution of technological developments. Original utopian views - based on extrapolations of the Internet’s technological characteristics - predicted leveling effects on existing forms of social inequality. We now know that such prospects of techno-gurus are unrealistic. In a scientific manner, I map barriers of online engagement and explain differences in the outcomes that people get from engaging with digital content.

Research interests

RESEARCH LINE 1: DIGITAL INEQUALITY

In the first line of research, I focus on the use and effects of the Internet (technology) in relation to a person’s position in society. I recently showed that some sections of the population more frequently use applications that have the greatest advantages for accruing capital and resources (such as work, study and societal participation), while other sections relatively often choose to use entertainment applications that have little advantage. Besides increasing relative differences, there is the disturbing trend of absolute exclusion; when offline alternatives become unavailable. By building on traditional classifications of potential areas of exclusion in my theorization, I try to understand who benefits in what way from the Internet. To further enrich quantitative work, I focus on specific types of internet usage that affect offline outcomes across several areas of society.

During my stay at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LsE), I worked on the project 'From digital skills to tangible outcomes’ (DISTO). With scholars from LsE and Oxford University, we created a theory-driven index for digital exclusion. The index follows the process of technology appropriation by accounting for motivation, access, skills, uses and offline outcomes. Last year, I was awarded a grant to study the interrelationship between social and digital inequality by following technology use in the household context for several months.

RESEARCH LINE 2: DIGITAL SKILLS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE INFORMATION AND NETWORK SOCIETY.

Digital skills play an important role in the translation of a type of use (e.g., search for a job) in the corresponding outcome (employment). Performance tests based on my framework of six types of skills (operational, formal, information, communication, content creation and strategic) revealed that assumptions about the level of digital skills among citizens are unjustified. I have for example shown that older users outperform young users in content-related digital skills and that we should not underestimate the importance of traditional skills for performing on digital skills. With graduate students, I am currently conducting performance tests of skills that are required for new – supposedly more intuitive – devices. From a practical perspective, much of the interest in this research line comes from the public domain, for example in relation to the objectives regarding the digital government. Digital skills are considered an important requisite to achieve this objective.

RESEARCH LINE 3: DIGITAL SKILLS FOR 21ST CENTURY LABOR

The third line of research is an extension of the previous one and concerns the skills needed in the context of employment. In political and economic discussions about what knowledge and skills are important in our current and future society, these skills are referred to as ‘21st-century skills.’ Examples are information management, communication, collaboration, problem-solving, or critical thinking, skills that are also needed in the digital environment. In this line of research, I respond to challenges such as the increasing demand for high skilled jobs, or the mismatch between what students learn at school and what the labor market requires. In 2012 and 2013, I conducted vignette studies and interviews that revealed that much time is lost in the workplace because of digital skill shortages, that organizations take few initiatives to support the worker, and that the effects of training are underestimated. Last year, I was awarded an NWO project (e-skills in the Dutch creative sector) which aims to identify digital skills for workers in the creative sector and to determine the level of these skills and the interplaying factors influencing this level. The results help to establish a policy that will be applied in the last phase of the project.

Keywords

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • digital inequality
  • digital divide
  • digital skills

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Research Output 2006 2019

Accepting the Internet-of-Things in our homes: The role of user skills

de Boer, P. S., van Deursen, A. J. A. M. & van Rompay, T. J. L., Mar 2019, In : Telematics and informatics. 36, p. 147-156 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Internet
Internet of things
Navigation

Inequalities in the social use of the Internet of things: A capital and skills perspective

Van Der Zeeuw, A., Van Deursen, A. J. & Jansen, G., 2019, In : New media & society. p. 1-18

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
File
Internet
Social Relations
figuration
Internet of things
Education
3 Citations (Scopus)

The first-level digital divide shifts from inequalities in physical access to inequalities in material access

van Deursen, A. J. A. M. & van Dijk, J. A. G. M., 1 Feb 2019, In : New Media and Society. 21, 2, p. 354-375 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
File
digital divide
Internet
subscription
online survey
hardware

Twenty-first century digital skills for the creative industries workforce: Perspectives from industry experts

van Laar, E., van Deursen, A. J. A. M., van Dijk, J. A. G. M. & de Haan, J., 1 Jan 2019, In : First monday. 24, 1, 3.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Personnel
Managers
Industry
Information management
Communication

21st-Century digital skills instrument aimed at working professionals: Conceptual development and empirical validation

van Laar, E., van Deursen, A. J. A. M., van Dijk, J. A. G. M. & de Haan, J., Dec 2018, In : Telematics and informatics. 35, 8, p. 2184-2200 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
File
Digital instruments
Personnel
Students
Communication
Industry

Prizes

information society
earning a doctorate
assets
Internet
earning a doctorate
international communication
communication
earning a doctorate
Belgium
communication sciences
Netherlands
Science of Communication
earning a doctorate
Internet
Communication

Activities 2008 2017

  • 6 Oral presentation
  • 1 Visiting an external academic institution

Arizona State University

Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen (Visiting researcher)
1 May 20171 Sep 2017

Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external academic institution

Digitale ongelijkheid

Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen (Speaker)
10 Sep 2014

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

Who benefits most from being online?

Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen (Speaker), Johannes A.G.M. van Dijk (Speaker)
21 May 2014

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

A multifaceted model to explain digital divides

Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen (Speaker), Johannes A.G.M. van Dijk (Speaker)
21 May 2014

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

Hebben burgers wel de juiste digitale vaardigheden?

Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen (Speaker)
27 Nov 2014

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation