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Research projects @ iminds SMIT vub

As of 2007 I am working as a researcher at the centre for Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication (SMIT). It was set up in 1990 by Prof. Dr. Jean-Claude Burgelman at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, within the department of Communication Studies. In 2000, Prof. Dr. Caroline Pauwels became director of the centre. In 2017 she was replaced by Prof. Dr. Pieter Ballon. SMIT research focuses on socio-economic and policy aspects of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and underlying infrastructures. It combines both fundamental (PhD’s) and applied research, and has been active in short and long term, as well as national and European research projects. In 2004 SMIT joined IBBT, the Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology, renamed to iMinds in 2012. In 2017, iMinds merged with imec. Below you can find additional information on the different research project I have been involved in since 2007. The most recent projects are mentioned first.


Start - January 2018

End - December 2021

PAR4-B is a four year project framed within the Anticipate program (Innoviris). It aims to develop an e-inclusive smart city policy for the City of Brussels, based upon six iterations of participatory actions in the following domains: economy, government, people, living, mobility and environment. The project is supervised by Dr. Ilse Mariën and Dr. Nils Walravens, and will be lead and realized by Willemien Laenens, junior researcher at imec-SMIT VUB. 

Participatie VUB

Start – September 2017

End – September 2018

Participatie VUB is a policy oriented project aimed at supporting VUB with the launch and execution of a digital platform that is meant to enable a long term and sustainable participation of the VUB community in the development of VUB policies and strategies. It beholds the identification of participation needs and wants of the VUB community, and a qualitative evaluation of the inclusive nature of the digital platform. Participatie VUB is supervised by Dr. Ilse Mariën, Prof. Dr. Karen Donders and Chris Beirens. 

Ruimte Vlaanderen

Start – January 2017

End – May 2017

Ruimte Vlaanderen is a short term project that entails (a) a critical evaluation of the communication channels currently used by the Flemish department 'Ruimte Vlaanderen', and (b) recommendations to innovate and enhance the communication strategies for environmental planning. For this study, multiple focus groups are realised to identify the respondents’ opinions and perceptions on government communication channels. Additionally, a self-assessment test is used to identify the media profiles of the respondents. Finally, a brief online questionnaire is used to measure current experiences with government communication channels for environmental planning.


Setting the Future Scene of e-Inclusion
Start – March 2014
End – March 2019


The IDEALiC project aims to address these issues by focusing on setting the new scene of e- inclusion for the upcoming years. The central research question of the IDEALiC project is how e-inclusion policies and initiatives can provide solutions for the mechanisms of digital exclusion that coincide with the digital turn. Both project partners – iMinds SMIT and FTU Namur – aim at taking e-inclusion research in Belgium to the next level by applying an innovative approach at theoretical, empirical and policy level. The IDEALiC project is therefore structured around 6 work packages, and is built upon an interdisciplinary methodological approach that combines qualitative user-oriented research, comparative research, and policy analysis. It also entails a basic quantitative data- analysis from existing data sources.


More information see IDEALiC.


World of online / offline personalized interactions
Start – July/September 2014
End – February 2016


The WOOPI project pursues to design and research a mixed-reality framework that incorporates physical, tradable, personalised cards and toys in an interactive multi-platform media experience. The framework is aimed at delivering a participatory and creative experience for young children (aged 4-6) by involving adults in the gaming experience and stimulating personalized manufacturing (3D printing). Two important characteristics of the framework are its scalability in that it can easily be adapted for other brands as well as its unique content strategy, aimed at providing both entertainment experiences and a creative media literacy learning environment for young and old users.


More information see WOOPI.


Kids Game Lab, in collaboration with iDrops vzw
Start – October 2013
End – April 2014

The aim of this project is to realize a feasibility study on the potential of participatory and co-creation approaches with regards to the development of games for (in)formal learning.


More information see GameChangers.



Speerpuntproject, in collaboration with Maks vzw
Start – February 2013
End – September 2013

This project entails the realization of a toolkit for Media Literacy practices and methods aimed at youth-at-risk. The toolkit itself will be developed by Maks vzw. iMinds SMIT will realize an in-depth media profile of youth-at-risk based upon focus group interviews and in-depth interviews.


Final report by SMIT: 


More information see Toolkit Media literacies.



From digital to societal participation: Opportunities and Challenges
Start – February/March 2013
End – May 2013

The Digital Participation project is commissioned by the SVR (Studiedienst Vlaamse Regering) and consists of an explorative study on the various opportunities and challenges that exist at the level of digital and societal participation of at-risk groups. It will entail a 1) theoretical exploration of the relation between digital and societal participation; 2) a state of the art on digital and societal participation in Flanders; and 3) an empirical study on the media practices and participation levels of at-risk youth and their families.


Final report by SMIT: 


More information see SVR – digital participation.


Digital inclusion for social inclusion. Welfare and well-being of vulnerable young people in the digital city: Implementation and policy.
Start – March 2012
End – March 2016


Dana’s PhD focuses on digital exclusion and inclusion policy in an urban context, in particular targeted toward young people at-risk of exclusion. She will take Brussels as a case study and 1) identify and analyze the various digital inclusion initiatives in Brussels (Dutch and French speaking); 2) organize several in-depth interviews and focus groups with young people at-risk.

DGEI project

Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion
Start – January 2012 
End – October 2012


The DGEI project was commissioned by IPTS, one of the seven scientific institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and focuses on the opportunities and challenges for the use of digital games to empower at-risk groups. The study has been finalized and IPTS has developed a Roadmap for Action on Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion in Europe. The aim of this report is to act as a living document for those who are working in the area of digital games, and are looking to develop actions and activities that require policy support.

Final report by SMIT: 

Roadmap by IPTS:


More information see DGEI.


MIDIS project

Start – March 2011
End – November 2011


The MIDIS-project (MeetInstrument voor Digitale Inclusie in Steden) is commissioned by the City of Ghent and consists of 
1) the development of a conceptual framework for digital inclusion from a theoretical perspective;
2) the development of a measurement tool for digital inclusion in a suburbian context;
3) a critical evaluation of Ghent’s Digitaal.Talent@Gent program, policy and approach regarding digital inclusion.
It was realized in collaboration with Cédric Courtois, Steve Paulussen and Pieter Verdegem of the research institution MICT and Jo Steyaert from Indigov.

The various deliverables are available here:

Meetbaarheid van digitale inclusie in steden (SMIT):

Digitaal inclusiebeleid in Gent (SMIT):

Digitale kloof in Gent in cijfers (MICT):

Validering meetinstrument (MICT):


More information see MIDIS.


M&M project

Start – November 2010
End – May 2011

The M&M project (Mediageletterdheid: naar een multidimensioneel model van digitale exclusie) is commisioned by the Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering (SVR) and consists of an explorative study on measurements tools and methodologies for digital inclusion.


The full publication is available here:


More information see M&M.


IST project – De digitale kloof van de tweede graad in Vlaanderen

Start – November 2009
End – November 2010


Project on the digital inclusion approach of civil society organisations commissioned by Instituut voor Samenleving & Technologie (IST). Goal of the project is threefolded: 
1) a theoretical analysis of the evolution of digital exclusion mechanisms; 
2) a critical analysis of digital inclusion approach of civil society organisations regarding their modus operandi, pedagogical approach, collaboration and embedding in local context; 
3) a discussion on the barriers encountered by civil society organisations and a reflection about possible policy interventions to counter these barriers. 

The full report (in Dutch) can be found here:


More information see IST Project.



Start – End 2008


Project on the development and deployment of the Belgian e-ID from 1999 to 2009 in collaboration with the University of Bremen. Similar studies were conducted in Spain, Autriche and Germany. Springer published a special issue of Identity in the Information Society entitled ‘The Diversity of National E-IDs in Europe: Lessons From Comparative Research’ which was Guest Edited by Herbert Kubicek from the University of Bremen.


The article on the Belgian case was entitled ‘The Belgian e-ID and its complex path to implementation and innovational change’ and is available here:


More information see BELPIC project.



Start – End 2008

The Acknowledge project focused on the Accessibility of Knowledge Infrastructures in Flanders. Our part of this project consisted of an analysis of the main barriers and opportunities of e-Learning for undereducated learners.

The final deliverable can be downloaded here:

More information see Acknowledge project.



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