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Information Studies: Information Systems (track)
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Students

Hans van 't Woud

Prior education: HBO Bachelor's degree in Communication & Multimedia Design (Willem de Kooning Academie)

'During my studies in Rotterdam I already discovered that I had an interest in internet technology and the design aspects in particular. After graduation I got a great job as a product manager within a company that developed digital security and file management systems for big corporations e.g.a system for digital patient files in hospitals. I actually really enjoyed this job, but when the financial crisis hit the company, I had to cut myself lose. After some consideration I decided not to look for another job, but first to get an academic title, so that it would be easier to apply for certain positions. I felt Human Centered Multimedia, now known as Information Systems, was something that would be really useful for me, because it would give me an academic perspective and better job prospectives.'

'I was used to develop things from a market point of view. A company wanted something - usually to make more money - so I would develop a system to help them do that. I felt that I needed to take it to a higher level, to know more about the theory and the essence of IT. How do people actually use mobile technology? Why do certain systems work better than others? A good example is the search engine optimisation (SEO) in Google. I was trained in how to get a higher ranking in Google, but I had no clear insight in how this system actually worked. That background knowledge is the kind of things you learn during this Master.'

'I had to follow a pre-master programme, but thanks to my prior education and work experience there was no need to follow all the mandatory courses. So I did the pre-master in six months, instead of the normal duration of a year. My prior studies was quite commercial, focused on product selling and marketing, while Human Centered Multimedia is far more theoretical. The level of education is definitely not too high, but I do notice that some science bachelor students have better programming skills or theoretical knowledge. On the other hand, I can benefit from my experience in the working field when we're working in teams, which you do a lot during this Master's programme. I know how to plan, divide duties and manage a project. I think other students appreciate me for sharing that experience.'

 'An area of IT that I have always been interested in is serious gaming. Using digital games to get and share knowledge has become quite popular over the last few years in educational and commercial fields, but has not yet been picked up by science that much. When I read an article about the analysis of the surface of planet Mars, I was instantly intrigued. It turns out NASA makes high-quality pictures of the surface of Mars, but doesn't really have the capacity to analyze these images. My idea is to develop some kind of game, like Facebook's Farmville, in which participants can analyse these pictures of the planet. Where is a water source? Where is wind erosion? With every picture they analyze, they can get points or some kind of reward.'

‘There have been various research projects in which was proven that random participants can make quite accurate claims, based on a certain qualification system. It's all about levels of abstraction. It's harder to identify wind erosion than a plain circle, but with the right way of looking it might be possible. And if it turns out that people can actually qualify pictures of Mars while playing a game, I'll definitely take the results to NASA!'

 'I don't want to pinpoint it to one thing, but it would be great to work with EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes on the Digital Agenda Department in Brussels. Her aim is to boost economic developments using IT. That would be ideal for me because of the combination of marketing and economics - something I learned at my prior studies - and the IT challenges that lie in the management of this gigantic European internet network. I guess people with an interdisciplinary view of IT questions can definitely play a significant role in an organisation like this.'