We live in a time in which more and more automated systems are providing
us with access to enormous quantities of information, through search
engines, websites, digital helpdesks and speaking computers, for
instance. How is it possible to ensure that people can access exactly
the information that they require? How can this be organized? What
technology do we have at our disposal to achieve this? How can the
demands and wishes of users be catered for best? How can all this be
translated into smart information systems?
These questions are central to the one-year English-taught Master's specialization Human Aspects of Information Technology (HAIT), a heavily internationally oriented specialization within the Communication and Information Sciences Master's program.
HAIT's basic point of departure is the way in which people communicate naturally.
- How do people ask questions, and for what purpose?
- What is the meaning of the words that are used and what kind of answers do people expect?
- When does miscommunication occur, and how can it be resolved in a natural way?
With this focus on the human element, HAIT clearly distinguishes itself from comparable programs on offer elsewhere in the Netherlands and abroad.
In the HAIT Master's specialization, you will learn how to organize information systems in such a way that they can communicate with the user in a natural way. In the future, a search engine will need to 'understand' which results an inquirer is looking for, and an automatic telephone helpdesk will need to be able to converse with a caller through speech recognition and artificial speech. By making use of the unique combination of information and language technology, you are actively contributing to the accessibility and the categorization of information.
The program trains the students to be professionals with an excellent understanding and knowledge of the field. A well-balanced combination of theory and skills guarantees the optimal conditions for the acquisition of expertise in the many potential building blocks that advanced information systems are made up of.
We teach you to use these blocks like an architect, with the wishes of clients and/or users in mind. Each problem connected to a specific need for information requires its own approach. You know which specific building blocks need to be combined to arrive at the optimum solution. You know how to use them.
In each instance, a firm theoretical basis is the starting point for
more in-depth practical applications. For instance, once you know how a
search engine is constructed and how it works, you will start focusing
on the question of what the system lacks in terms of human interaction.
Sometimes the answer will be literally right in front of you. Testing
dialog systems (as in talking computers) is not done from behind a
desk, but by using experiments that you could get anyone to take part in
- fellow students, friends, but also 'members of the general public'.