Cryptocurrency, the secure financial transaction technology that is taking the world by storm, is all over the news. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lightcoin, they are all a form of alternative currency that uses decentralized control known as blockchain to increase the safety of each transaction. Blockchain technology is expected to revolutionize the world and is advancing at an unprecedented pace. That’s why, as University at Buffalo computer science and engineering teaching professor Bina Ramamurthy says, there is urgency in supporting those who will propel it forward.
“We need to educate people at all levels – developers, researchers, users and decision makers – to enable them to innovate and be informed users of the technology,” she says.
Ramamurthy is the instructor of a set of four new online courses about blockchain offered on the Coursera platform, which features 25 million registered users and courses from 150 universities online.
The first three courses of the blockchain specialization are now available, and the fourth will launch June 25. Courses were developed by UBuffalo’s Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE), the business outreach center of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The blockchain enables peer-to-peer transfer of digital assets without any intermediaries. The UBuffalo courses introduce foundational concepts, preparing learners to program on the Ethereum blockchain, design and implement smart contracts, and develop decentralized applications.
They are ideal for the beginning developer who is comfortable programming in a high-level language and desires to advance his/her career in the blockchain field. Courses may also appeal to those who are curious about the Internet-like technology and its vast possibilities.
- Blockchain Basics: provides a broad overview of the essential concepts of blockchain technology – by initially exploring the Bitcoin protocol followed by the Ethereum protocol – to lay the foundation necessary for developing applications and programming.
- Smart Contracts: focuses on the computational element of blockchain technology, which allows for implementing user-defined operations of arbitrary complexity that are not possible through plain cryptocurrency protocols. Learners design and program smart contracts in Solidity language, test and deploy them in the Remix development environment, and invoke them from a simple web interface that Remix provides.
- Decentralized Applications: concentrates on decentralized applications (Dapps), which provide anyone with access to blockchain features and services. Upon completion, learners are equipped to design and develop end-to-end Dapps.
- Blockchain Platforms: provides an overview of the broader blockchain ecosystem. Upon completion, learners are equipped to discuss permissioned blockchain architectures of Hyperledger and Microsoft Azure’s blockchain as a service model, and analyze the Augur and Grid+ decentralized application platforms.
Those who sign up for these courses will have access to course content that consists of video lectures complemented by reading materials, assessments, project work and peer interaction. The pace and scale is also up to the user, as learners may sign up for individual courses or the complete series.
There is no charge to access videos and readings. The fee for gaining access to all content – which includes assignments – and the opportunity to earn a certificate in blockchain is $49 per month.