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Understanding and Teaching Web 3.0

By Jody Robbins


First came Web 1.0, then Web 2.0. Now, Web 3.0 is with us, but still coming into its ascendancy. So, now that it’s here, just what is Web 3.0?

It’s the next fundamental change both in how websites are created and how people interact with them. Essentially, Web 1.0 was a place where static information was dumped, then consumed with little interaction. Web 2.0 described the increased interaction and collaboration among users of the social web. Now, we’ve loosely entered the Age of Web 3.0.

Exciting aspects of Web 3.0 include forward-leaning technologies like artificial intelligence (AI); big data; virtual, mixed and augmented reality; the Internet of Things (IOT); responsive web design; and more.

>>Learn more about Web 3.0 on Techopedia.

Despite those functional descriptions, there is not yet a universally accepted definition for Web 3.0. The technology that will bring us there has yet to be fully developed, but will be much more part of daily life: “The wealth of data available as part of the Internet of Things, pulling together all the information from our gadgets, wearables, online and offline presence, will ultimately expand and develop the digital extension of humans,” Richard writes Horne on Medium.com.

Internet Boom, Bust, Boom

Web 2.0 has been around since roughly 2000, when the Internet started to become more a part of our daily lives in a slow, waiting-for-AOL-to-dial-up kind of way. Now, it’s 2018 and gone are the days when we had to power up a desktop computer to get online. “A lot has happened. Everything is user-driven and even social media feels like a dated term,” DeVry professor, Jonathan Agresta told The Fuse. “Users are driving content, building it on very user-friendly platforms. That’s where I’ve seen the shift, to smart home, integrating the Internet into everything,” Agresta says.

Consumers are also turning to the Internet of things, be it Google’s Alexa or Siri on your iPhone, among other examples. At the same time, privacy has become an increasingly more concerning and complex issue. The financial model of Facebook and some other online platforms relies on selling advertising that utilizes user-generated content and the big data that comes with it.

“Commerce on the Internet is still based on utilizing user data and targeted marketing to bring in advertising dollars,” Agresta says. “In light of that, ethical discussions are important. Who do we share our info and passwords with? Who is sharing our info without us even knowing?

“It’s a double-edged sword. Users want to do business and interact with others online, so who are the gatekeepers protecting user data and can we rely on them?”

Agresta notes early adopters are changing the forums where they communicate online. Younger users are using more peer-to-peer apps like SnapChat and What’sApp. Generation Z doesn’t want to be in the public space, they want to connect one-on-one or with groups without it being in a browser.

Another important piece of Web 3.0 is responsive web design, which Agresta has taught in the WGD251 Responsive Web Design class at DeVry. “It’s about making your website look good on all devices without sacrificing content,” he says. “The old way of building mobile websites was getting rid of content to make it fit. Now, thanks to responsive design, we don’t have to do that.”

Another difference? Website users are increasingly in the driver’s seat when it comes to web development. “In terms of web and graphic design, there is now a strong emphasis on the community piece of it,” Agresta says. “When I first started teaching, it was writing HTML and presenting something to the user. Now, we’re constantly talking about what the consumer wants to do with this.”

Next Gen Tech Skills

Teaching students how to function in the online world requires a mix of old and new school learning. The foundations of good design haven’t changed: color, balance, and all the good things that come with traditional artistic fundamentals. But, you can’t make a website or graphics without understanding how people interact with them.

“We give students experience in graphic design: how to use Adobe Design, Photoshop and Illustrator. They learn composition and how to work with the necessary tools,” Agresta says of a course he has taught, WGD232 Web Design. “As far as web design, we teach HTML5 and CSS. The former builds the structure of the website; the latter handles the styling. I also teach JavaScript. You really can’t build an interactive website without the dynamic content and PHP is the organizational, data-based side of things.”

Agresta incorporates social media into some mid-level courses like WGD260 Web Portfolio, which he has also taught, by working with students to incorporate their work into a portfolio, encouraging them to create professional Facebook and LinkedIn pages in order to build their professional brand.

Other aspects Agresta has covered with his students in the aforementioned courses and others like them include working with File Manager, understanding file structures, and putting content on their student server, which is inherently public. Students create their own portfolio websites they can share with anyone and get into the habit of explaining the thinking behind their work.

“Even the learning management system students use requires content input, so even taking the class is educational when it comes to understanding today’s online world,” Agresta says.

“You present a scenario, ask students what they think, discuss, and come to a conclusion.” This is something that has been a goal of education since its inception: critical thinking. And it’s more important than ever in a Web 3.0 world.