The State Government run Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) teamed up with Blockchain Education Network (BEN) to establish the Kerala Blockchain Academy (KBA). The KBA is the first of its kind in India and will provide their students with an idea of blockchain mechanism and how to create Dapps and Smart Contracts.
While this may be a first for India, this is definitely not the first time that universities have taken blockchain education seriously and started issuing degrees on it. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus has a Master’s degree program on Digital Currencies and attracts names like Andreas Antonopoulos for lectures. In fact, well known universities like Stanford, Princeton, Duke etc. have also gotten into the blockchain game.
So, why are they doing that?
Why is it that so many well-reputed colleges are looking into issuing courses on blockchain technology? How can they go about it?
We will cover all this and more in this article.
The rise and rise of blockchain technology
What started as a means to send money from person A to person B, as designed by the still unknown Satoshi Nakamoto, has quickly become the hottest technology since the invention of the internet.
What used to be the darling of underground cryptonerds has been embraced by some of the biggest companies in the world.
In fact, a quick Google Trends search of the keyword “blockchain” will show you the level of of public interest on the topic over the last 5 years.
Why Should Universities get into the blockchain game?
Ok, so blockchain technology is a fascinating topic to look into. However, why must a university dedicate their time and resources into teaching it?
There are three reasons for that:
#1 To Get an Edge
Blockchain technology is still in its infancy. The fact that it is getting adopted by the mainstream at such a rapid rate is a testament to its potential. However, this presents the universities a unique opportunity to become first-comers in the blockchain education field.
Universities have the chance to get their names associated with “blockchain” the same way Harvard has gotten associated with “law” and MIT with “engineering.” Positioning oneself to be the dominant player in a space is something that any university would want to do.
#2 Upcoming Interoperability
We are on the verge of entering the era of third-generation blockchains. Blockchains like Cardano, ICON, AION identify as third generation. One of their most fundamental goals is achieving interoperability.
What is interoperability? In layman’s terms, it will enable interaction among various blockchains AND legacy companies.
That sounds pretty cool, but what does that have to do with universities?
Interoperability will enable more and more companies to incorporate and interact with blockchain companies. As such, they will be looking to hire people who have some basic blockchain knowledge.
As institutes that teach skills to future employees to thrive in their space, it is their duty to give their students an edge over their competitors. One of the ways that they can do so is by training them in skills that they would require in the future. “Blockchain Technology” definitely qualifies as one of these skills.
#3 Surge of Jobs
There is no other way of putting it. “Blockchain Technology” is an extremely hot sector in the job market right now. Tony Zerucha at Bankless Times does an analysis of the surge of blockchain and bitcoin related jobs in the job portal Indeed’s website.
This is what they found:
Since November 2015 Indeed has seen a 1065% growth in searches for jobs mentioning “blockchain,” “bitcoin” or “cryptocurrency” on the company’s job search site.
Indeed is not the only website which is seeing this trend. In fact, LinkedIn, the popular business social network, has seen the number of blockchain-related postings nearly triple in 2017.
Scott Bittle of Burning Glass Technologies, a job-data analytics firm which found a 115% increase from 2017 in postings for blockchain developers, notes:
“Because of its connection with ‘cryptocurrencies,’ blockchain is associated with finance; and major banks like Liberty Mutual, Capital One, and Bank of America have posted openings. But the demand for blockchain is much broader,” he notes, “including major consulting firms like Accenture and Deloitte and technology companies like IBM and SAP. This is additional evidence that the business world is starting to take blockchain seriously.”
Since there is such an obvious demand for blockchain jobs, it is their duty to teach the skill to their students.
How can universities approach this?
There are two ways that blockchain technology can be added to a university’s curriculum. One is via partnerships, and the other via certifications.
One approach to do this is what The University of Edinburgh is doing with IOHK, the company behind Cardano development.
IOHK Co-Founder, Jeremy Wood says about the partnership:
“IOHK’s partnership with the University of Edinburgh provides unique opportunities for current students to become the next generation of blockchain and cryptography leaders. As a headquarters for IOHK’s international academic research community, we expect to see the university facilitate innovative projects that drive how businesses and governments approach blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”
Getting a partnership with a reputable blockchain company can present a challenge for universities that are not as well known as Edinburgh. So, a simple and straightforward way that they can give out blockchain courses is via certification.
Now, you might be wondering why certification instead of full-blown degree courses?
There are plenty of advantages that certification has over degrees:
- Shorter: An average certification course may last from anywhere around 6 months to 2 years. In some cases, it can be even shorter than that. A degree on the other hand will last minimum 2 years.
- Easily available: Most certifications are easily available online and can be done at your own time, pace, and location. However degrees may require you to join classes, and follow the universities schedule.
- More focused: Certifications are more subject centric than degrees. Eg. if you are doing a certification on C++ programming then you are just going to learn C++. However, if you are doing a degree on Computer Science then you may even need to take up Environmental Studies or Mathematics for a semester.
- Cheaper: Obviously since certifications last for a shorter time, they are a lot cheaper than degrees.
- Less age restrictive: Usually college going students or people in their late teens to mid 20’s opt for degrees. However, people from all walks of life and age groups apply for certification because of the flexibility it provides schedule and location wise.
According to The Washington Post, the number of people who hold post-baccalaureate certificates has increased significantly. Here are some of the numbers:
- Nearly 51,000 people earned the credential in 2010, a 46 percent increase in five years.
- For men, having certification adds a 25% to their income.
- For women it is a 13% addition to their income, but that’s mostly because they are in less technical fields.
- According to research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, about 3 percent of the workforce i.e. 4 million workers have certificates.
NOTE: The idea of certification is not alien to India and Indian Institutes either. The Manipal Global Education Services offers certification in multiple areas such as: Information Technology, Finance, and Management. In order to gauge how big and valuable they are, just look at some of their partners: IBM, Deloitte, Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group, Mahindra Group, Wipro, Godrej Industries etc.
So we can see from the numbers and the obvious advantages why Certification could be the way to go for these universities.
How can SpringRole help these universities?
SpringRole is the first online reputation network powered by artificial intelligence and the blockchain technology. Its core technology can help universities deliver exceptional services to their students.
The cornerstone of great educational institutions are great teachers. In order to make sure that their certification course are a success, they need to have the ability to hire brilliant teachers in the space.
SpringRole provides a system wherein one can endorse a person for their skills in an honest and efficient way. The way we do that is by the incorporation of two elements:
- Each endorsement has a certain fee attached. Meaning, if Alice were to endorse Bob for a skill, she will need to pay a small fee (less than the cost of a coffee!) in order to do so.
- Endorsements from high-value people with the same skillset will carry more weight. Meaning, if Bob is a C++ coder and Alice is a master C++ coder which Charlie is a novice C++ coder, then Alice’s endorsement will carry more weight than Charlie’s.
This ensures that if someone is being acknowledged for their work by a master of their niche, they should be rewarded for that.
These two features make sure that every endorsement in the SpringRole platform counts. So, if a person is highly rated for “writing” in the SpringRole ecosystem, you better believe that that person is Shakespeare’s and Hemingway’s love child.
Now, suppose you are looking for teachers to teach a blockchain certification program in your university and you come across someone who is highly rated in both “blockchain technology” and “teaching”. Keeping in mind how honest the endorsements in our system are, you will know that you have come across a gem of a candidate!
That is exactly how SpringRole can help universities hire the best of the best teachers to teach their blockchain certification programs.
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