Online education provider edX, in cooperation with UC Berkeley, launched the Blockchain Fundamentals Professional Certificate program last week —the first edX program taught by undergraduate students.
The student organization Blockchain at Berkeley, which typically teaches the Blockchain Fundamentals DeCal, organized the certificate program in cooperation with campus computer science professors. The program is made up of two classes — the first will provide a basic introduction to cryptocurrency, and the second dives deeper into blockchain technology.
The two courses will be taught by Nadir Akhtar, Rustie Lin and Gloria Mengyi Wang — Akhtar and Lin are campus juniors, while Wang is a senior — with Lin serving as the head of the edX program.
“For the public, the most important implication is a revolutionary way of organizing data,” said Steve Chen, co-founder of EchoLink Foundation and a researcher at the blockchain lab of the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, or SCET, in an email. “The key difference between blockchain and all previous ways of storing information on computer systems is the replacement of a central authority with a distributed way of securing data.”
Each of the undergraduate instructors is well-versed in blockchain — all three are part of Blockchain at Berkeley, with Akhtar serving as president.
Lin said his team has been working with campus computer science professor Armando Fox, who Lin said indicated that there was a “demand for blockchain education on edX.”
“Berkeley just happens to be the hub of blockchain right now,” Lin said.
The class’s presentation has to be “smoother” in the online course, because students will replay and rewatch lectures, according to the program’s platform manager and campus junior Derrick Li.
He added that the course team is working on making sure assignments reinforce concepts being taught throughout the course.
The certification program currently costs $178.20 and will take 12 weeks to complete, with the program’s two courses taking six weeks each. The two courses covered in this program are called “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies” and “Blockchain Technology” — both courses are also offered for free outside of the program.
The first course is scheduled to begin July 8, while the second course will begin Sep. 9.
“(Blockchain) is an important concept, because it is going to definitely have a big impact on industry … (It) may change the way business is done,” said SCET spokesperson Keith McAleer.