CNBC’s Senior Tech Reporter Ari Levy details how the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, with its acceptance explosion and staggering valuations, now seems to have opened an entire new educational universe.
Thanks to Bitcoin, Crypto Courses Aren’t Just for PhDs
Professor Dan Boneh of Stanford University Computer Security Lab discussed the attraction to his cryptography course, and how it is due to “the huge valuations in these currencies” such as bitcoin. Second only to machine learning, Computer Security and Cryptography is a wildly popular course. It’s also true bitcoin is “a wonderful way to teach cryptography” he told Mr. Levy of CNBC. The advent of cryptocurrencies means “there are a whole bunch of new applications for cryptography that didn’t exist before,” Professor Boneh added.
Getting to cryptography through bitcoin has meant a renewed interest in the mathematical language. Professor Boneh “said that more than 1 million people have signed up for an online cryptography class he teaches through the website Coursera,” CNBC reports.
Coursera boasts nearly thirty million registered users and two thousand different courses in a dozen languages. News.bitcoin.com registered for Professor Boneh’s Cryptography I course, and found two immediate options: 79.00 USD would earn participants a certificate, along with educational feedback, while the free option allows auditors a chance to take such a course as a test drive or just for the sake of knowledge. Financial aid is available.
“Cryptography is an indispensable tool for protecting information in computer systems,” the introduction states. The class is broken into parts, including cryptographic systems, secret keys, public keys, programming projects, and zero-knowledge.”
Even a textbook authored by Professor Boneh and Vipul Goyal of Carnegie Mellon, A Graduate Course in Applied Cryptography, is freely available and frequently updated for anyone to self-learn.
Cryptocurrency is a DIY Project for Students
Professor Goyal “spent seven years at Microsoft Research in India, where he was working on new kinds of cloud encryption,” according to CNBC. “He recently helped start the CMU Crypto group,” Mr. Levy explains, “to take on research projects.” The group includes Turing Award winner Manuel Bloom.
Both professors explained how cryptocurrency prices, such as bitcoin reaching 6,000 USD recently, have encouraged students to attempt similar projects of their own. Professor Boneh stated, “There are many experiments underway and just like in the rest of the start-up ecosystem, some will do well and some will fail.”
With such an explosion in market valuations, it’s inevitable students will leave formal academia. Professor Goyal notes how if they “want to start a mobile app, you probably need some investor funding. For cryptocurrencies, if you start your own, and if people are interested, you automatically get funded by the value of what you created.”
With valuations continuing to skyrocket, rest assured more crypto courses are on the way. Both UC Berkeley and MIT have offered their versions.
What do you think about crypto courses open to everyone? Tell us in the comments below!
Images courtesy of: Pixabay, The Ether Review, CMU.