Teaching Web Development – An Integrated Approach{1}

by Ricardo G

This peer-reviewed article talks about the importance for web developers to obtain an in-depth knowledge of databases and web programming,
since most of today’s websites are data-driven. A solid knowledge of SQL and strong programming skills is imperative, according to the
authors of the article. It is also said that these topics are usually covered in separate courses, leaving students with a fragmented view of how to integrate all of these components. A very important comment made about learning is that “Learning is facilitated when existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge”. However, that can be sometimes difficult for instructors since they don’t know about their students’ background/experiences outside school. This, however, can be offset by the knowledge the instructor can gain about the courses that students have previously taken in the Information Systems curricula.
The paper assumes that the first course students take is database, followed by web GUI design and, finally, web programming. Then the article goes on to describe a business case study that implements all of these three skills in just one application.  The case study is about a Currency Trading Company in which currency is bought and sold by either persons or businesses. The case study solution started by creating an ER Diagram, followed by a Use case Diagram. After that, SQL was used to create the tables, insert data, generate reports, etc. Stored procedures were also used in the case study. Then, the design of the GUI is implemented by using HTML and CSS. Forms are also created. Finally, having a GUI frontend and a database backend, is where server-side programming comes into play. PHP is used in the example, but it is mentioned that ASP.NET could easily be substituted.

I was very pleased to see that Cal Poly Pomona does provide its students with the skills necessary to see the “big picture”. It is true that we have to take several separate courses in programming and database, but in this web development class we are able to put all of that together to create an integrated solution. Every step used in this case study is currently being used in our Web development project, and that is very gratifying. An integrated approach is definitely the best way to apply any previous knowledge a student has while gaining new expertise. In fact, I’m looking forward to learning ASP.NET and be able to finally see “big picture” finally becomes a reality

Hauser, K., Olsen, D. & Fadel, K. (2010, January). An integrated approach to teaching web development. Review of Business Information Systems, 14(1), p. 44-59.