Blockchain has become a ubiquitous buzzword in business circles — but what are its implications for higher education?
A decentralized ledger, useful for storing data securely. Experts predict that blockchain technology will automate numerous tasks, and upend banking, healthcare, and education. Buzz aside, to the true believers, there’s nothing blockchain can’t do. Blockchain technology is now being used to track produce from farm-to-store, fund journalism, cast absentee ballots in elections, and more. Blockchain enthusiasts believe it holds the answer to practically everything: poverty, cancer, copyright management, protecting consumer information, storing scholarly articles, etc. Governments and corporations alike are intrigued by its potential.
With blockchain in demand, so too are college courses teaching the topic.
Inside Higher Ed reported that both Columbia University and Stanford University opened blockchain research centers this summer, following the lead of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Those schools have joined other institutions of higher learning that have begun teaching courses on the technology, including Miami University in Ohio, Montclair State University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.
“There is rapidly growing student interest, undefined University of Pennsylvania legal studies and business ethics professor Kevin Werbach told CNBC. “They’re seeing opportunities with companies that want students to work in this area, which include both blockchain focused start-ups as well as major companies. Wharton [School of the University of Pennsylvania] sends people to all the Fortune 500 companies, and investment banks and technology firms. A very high percentage of those leading firms now have blockchain or distributed ledger projects, and they’re looking for expertise in that area.undefined
As companies delve into blockchain, talent will be needed to lead the way. Already Glassdoor.com lists more than 2,700 jobs blockchain-related jobs. But even for colleges, teaching blockchain can be a challenge.
Around since 2008, blockchain is probably best known for being the driving technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. As such, the decade-old technology has only begun to catch on as an in-demand course in recent years. As blockchain emerges, universities have introduced it into computer science programs, but challenges remain in teaching a technology that has only been embraced by academics in recent years.