Officially launched in February 2021, Project DIGCOM represents a new collaboration between the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the UvA and the Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties (minBZK). This is an exciting two-year collaboration designed to assess and support the digital competence of Dutch citizens, representing one of the most robust efforts thus far to understand digital competence across the lifespan.
All Dutch citizens need an adequate level of digital competence in order to fully participate in society. Digital competence can be divided into digital skills and digital awareness. Digital skills play an important role in communication with others and in finding and using information, whether you want to vote, apply for a job, or even date. While many citizens often feel they have these digital skills, this does not necessarily transform into digital awareness. In other words, the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions and protect privacy online. Covid-19 has put a spotlight on this problem. Increasing numbers of people have fallen victim to phishing attempts as they work, shop, and conduct their banking from home. At the same time, although there are digital opportunities available, many do not recognize and make use of them.
It is clear that insufficient digital competence is a serious problem that requires a clear solution. If we hope to ensure that our society is resilient to the times ahead, we must bolster the digital competence of our citizens. But how? To provide adequate support, we first need to know who is most in need of help and which aspects of digital competence are the most pressing pain points. Then, we need to know how we can best support different people to enhance their digital competence. Project DIGCOM is designed to address this by asking the following questions:
- What is the level of digital competence of the Dutch population (10 years and older) in general and how does this develop over time?
- Which groups within the Dutch population are most in need of support and which aspects of digital competence require special attention?
- How can we support digital competence in an effective and scalable manner?
The project is unique in that we focus on the entire Dutch population (starting at 10 years of age) and rely on a range of methods including surveys, interviews, and experiments to address the problem at hand. Working closely with MinBZK and other organizations within the Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven, this project has knowledge dissemination and interdisciplinarity built into its core. The team leaders, too, bring with them an interdisciplinary backdrop that together will serve this project well.
Dr. Jessica Piotrowski, Principal Investigator (@jesstpiotrowski)
Prof. Dr. Claes de Vreese, Co-Principal Investigator (@claesdevreese)
To follow updates of the project, be sure to follow ASCoR’s Digital Communication Methods Labs (@digicomlab_eu) on Twitter.