What you will study
Over the last few years the internet and the World Wide Web have provided the basis for the development of a range of strategic business solutions.
As web technologies have entered the mainstream of IT development a wide range of applications in sectors such as marketing, selling, purchasing, banking and publishing have been deployed, positioning the Web in the relationship between providers and users.
This module starts with a focus on the foundations of web applications, including protocols, standards and content handling. It builds on these by exploring application architectures, components and alternative application designs before considering how applications and content can be made more dynamic and mobile.
The module is made up of four blocks and a project.
Block 1 Foundations of web technology
The first block covers the basic technologies on which the Web is founded. Aspects covered include: historic development of the Web; 'architecture' and basic client server architecture; protocols such as HTTP; content markup (HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML) and issues of accessibility and usability; standards and standardisation organisations (W3C, Internet working group); and security (firewalls, HTTPS, certificates).
This block of the module covers all of the basic foundations on which the remainder of the module builds. You may already be familiar with some of these areas, especially if you have studied My digital life (TU100), but this block ensures that all students can gain comparable insight.
Block 2 Web architectures
Next, Block 2 develops 'architecture' by exploring different approaches and their properties as well as considering components (databases, registries etc.) which are used in different approaches and examining the nature of different server and client side languages. In addition, in this block you’ll consider other aspects related to architecture such as scalability and reliability.
These aspects include; tiered, service orientated, and network architectures; the role of the database; web services; registries; scalability; reliability; approaches to security (cookies, certificates etc); and server and client side implementation languages (proprietary and open source).
While this block considers a range of programming languages and their roles in developing applications, it does not teach programming and you are expected to have already acquired these skills.
Block 3 Mobile content
Block 3 examines the trend toward more portable content and content customisation and also explores mobile content and applications. It considers aspects such as Web 2, content streaming (RSS), content manipulation (DOM, XSLT etc) and approaches to delivering content to mobile devices. You will also undertake the development of a mobile application using Google App Inventor.
Block 4 Developing applications
The final block explores how applications are planned, designed and developed by IT professionals, examining project planning, application design, development environments and tools as well as application deployment and maintenance.
At the end of the module, you will carry out a substantial project drawing on earlier work on case studies and applying the skills and techniques from each block.
In addition, using three case studies, you’ll examine aspects of real world web applications.
The Open University Running Club (OURC) – in the first case study you’ll follow the development of a web presence for a small professional organisation, from the requirements collection stage to deployment of the finished application.
parkrun – next, you’ll examine the more challenging requirements and approach adopted by a not-for-profit organisation which helps community volunteers organise timed 5km runs in public spaces across the UK and beyond. This decentralised organisation has a web presence for organising and publicising events as well as receiving and publishing race results.
London 2012 Olympics – in this final case study you’ll examine the provision of an internet presence for this high profile event that posed a particular set of problems in terms of meeting the expected level of demand for event information, results, news and multimedia feeds. The provision also had to support a diverse audience with differing needs; those attending events, the English speaking nation and a very large world-wide audience.
All three case studies are provided as multimedia content with text, diagrams, pictures and video (transcripts are also provided).
The module helps develop important skills which are particularly relevant to the workplace, such as written communication skills, information literacy, independent learning and critical analysis.
In an IT context the module will provide practitioners with relevant experience, skills and insight into a range of important aspects, such as the source and appropriate use of standards, appreciation of the application life cycle from design to decommissioning, and the range of current approaches to web application design and implementation.