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Universities and business schools race to offer bitcoin and blockchain lessons

Written by FEjobs.com

Thursday 21st June 2018

Universities and business schools are racing to offer courses on cryptocurrencies and blockchain, due to the so-called ‘crypto boom’ requiring greater understanding of the technologies.

The Financial Times notes how debate over the future of cryptocurrency education is growing, and demand for courses on this technology – as well as the blockchain technology that underpins it – is rising steadily.

More specifically, interest in bitcoin – the main cryptocurrency – has spiked due to fluctuating shifts in its value.

Universities and business schools are keen to educate pupils in a specialism that has only recently been hurled into the mainstream. No longer is it only banks and governments evaluating how to use these technologies; sectors from mining to logistics want to explore how they could benefit from them, too.

“This is moving much faster than people expected. Business schools will have no choice but to update curriculums,” commented David Yermack, professor of finance and business transformation at the New York University Stern School of Business.

Yermack began teaching one of the very first cryptocurrency and blockchain courses in 2014. A total 230 students enrolled in the most recent course, twice the number than in the previous year. This forced Yermack to move teaching the course into the largest auditorium in the school: “The growth is exponential,” he said.

The value of Bitcoin doubled in just one month, peaking at around $20,000 in December before dropping to around $6,500 last week. It was this spike that led to excitement about other cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), a crowdfunding system where people trade their own digital coins or tokens for software or other services.

Blockchain, the technology powering cryptocurrencies along with numerous ICOs, is also an emerging field. Blockchain enables encrypted data to be shared instantly on databases that are public or restricted to certain parties.

“The increase in value in the cryptos played a large part in the increase in public interest,” Jens Martin, programme director of the University of Amsterdam Business School, acknowledged. The school offers a course on blockchain and cryptocurrencies as part of its master in international finance.

“We see many applications not only from people with a banking background, but a more diverse group who are interested in applying these concepts to finance,” he noted.

Some academics note the difficulties of teaching such a course, due to the pace the technologies are adapting. “You could be walking into the classroom and something in your course becomes redundant,” noted Campbell Harvey, of Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in North Carolina.

Still, Harvey is sure that engaging with cryptocurrencies is crucial. “Schools should be preparing students for the future not the past. Unfortunately most […] don’t have these courses that are focused on the future.”

Do you agree that offering courses in these technologies should be a priority for universities and business schools?

Source:

https://www.ft.com/content/011cf9b6-69a7-11e8-aee1-39f3459514fd


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