Education in Blockchain and DLT: How to Acquire the Necessary Knowledge with a Workload of 10 Working Days

Working at a university, dozens of people ask us: “How can I get in blockchain? What do I have to read?” Therefore, we now took the time and developed a 10-day program to onboard people interested in blockchain and DLT. The adoption of blockchain technology gets more and more widespread. Therefore, it is essential — also for employees working with topics such as digital transformation — to have a basic understanding of blockchain technology. This article summarizes main sources which can be used to acquire initial blockchain knowledge. We recommend podcasts, books, networking events, papers, study programs, workshops, online courses and online articles. We “design” a 10-day program, which makes it possible to acquire the necessary blockchain basics just within a few days in a “learning and doing” mode. Please note that as lecturers of an university we are biased and therefore also present sources of ourselves. — Authors: Philipp Sandner, Jonas Groß

Introduction

Blockchain technology approaches reality and more and more companies plan and implement first blockchain projects. In June 2019, Facebook has announced its crypto currency project — one of the most promising announcements so far. Other companies are also very active (e.g. Börse Stuttgart, Commerzbank, Bosch, Daimler and hundreds of startups) and even Germany as a country now has a national blockchain strategy.

Figure 1: How to acquire blockchain knowledge with a workload of 10 days?

How to gain knowledge?

If you intend to acquire blockchain knowledge, you have various different options (see Figure 1): listening to podcasts, reading books, papers or online articles, networking and attending blockchain-related study programs or online courses. Some of these options are “low-hanging fruits” such as podcasts, others require a higher amount of commitment such as studying white papers or participating in a programming or smart contract coding course. Learning about blockchain and DLT is more than YouTube video and podcasts. Therefore the latter tasks are also inevitably necessary if you take it seriously.

What is the level of understanding that should be acquired?

Everybody who works or intends to work in the field of blockchain should at least be able to understand — and program — a very simple smart contract such as an escrow process implemented with a couple of lines of code in the program language Solidity. This is a clear statement which — in our mind — makes sense although other people would say that a different focus should be made when learning about blockchain and DLT.

Purchasing and transferring crypto currencies

Time needed: ½ day

  • Buy Ether for 10 Euro and also Bitcoin for the same amount. Please be aware that in case of making mistakes with public or private keys, this money can be lost irreversibly. So, to follow this step is of course everybody’s own decision.
  • Open a second account (examples above).
  • Obtain a wallet address from the second account which looks similar to 0xd42899dcC146d4788649e6aa5B09f129fC269127 for Ethereum.
  • In the first step, transfer a fraction of Ether or Bitcoin you have purchased to this address. Note that addresses for Ether and Bitcoin are different, so be cautious and do not mix them up.
  • Now you can see that value can be sent around the world just within a couple of seconds (Ether) or minutes (Bitcoin).
  • A more advanced step but extremely helpful to understand blockchain: Add the plug-in MetaMask to the Google Chrome internet browser to access the Ethereum network directly and to store your Ether in your own wallet. Thereafter, open an account and generate your own wallet address. Then, transfer some of your Ether from the earlier steps to this newly generated wallet.

Listen to podcasts

Time needed: 1 day for listening to 10–15 episodes

  • BTC Echo: This podcast targets a more advanced audience with focus on Bitcoin and crypto assets. Access the podcast here.

Read important white papers

Time needed: ½ day

Watch videos e.g. on YouTube

Time needed: ½ day

Networking and meet people

Time needed: ½ day for attendance at 2 meetups (mostly, for free)

  • Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) Events: Attending blockchain events of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) is another possibility to approach blockchain technology. The FSBC organizes various conferences related to blockchain and crypto currencies such as the Crypto Assets Conference every year. Furthermore, discussions about current topics as Libra, security tokens and the Euro on blockchain systems are offered. To be up-to-date about FSBC events see www.fs-blockchain.de — here you can subscribe for the newsletter.

Online courses e.g. on smart contracts

Time needed: 3 days for the Udemy course on smart contracts

  • Academy of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center: Blockchain in a Nutshell is a short course including a basic introduction to blockchain, crypto and DLT. Blockchain Masterclass is a >10h course with most of the detailed aspects without being too technical. It also includes tokenization, digital euro etc.

Further articles and websites

Time needed: 1 day

Books for the wider overview

Time needed: 3 days for reading Tapscott’s “Blockchain Revolution”

  • Narayanan, A., Bonneau, J., Felten, E., Miller, A. and S. Goldfeder (2016): Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction. More information.
  • Sandner, P., I. Welpe and A. Tumasjan (2020a): Der Blockchain-Faktor: Wie die Blockchain unsere Gesellschaft verändern wird, Amazon-Link.
  • Sandner, P., I. Welpe and A. Tumasjan (2020b): Die Zukunft ist dezentral: Wie die Blockchain Unternehmen und den Finanzsektor auf den Kopf stellen wird, Amazon-Link.
  • Steger, P. (2017): Die revolutionäre Technologie erklärt. Das System, ihre Anwendungen und Gefahren (2017). More information.

Scientific papers

Time needed: 0 days since this is optional

Blockchain-related study programs and workshops

Time needed: 0 days since this is optional

And now?

It is important to “read” about how education in blockchain and DLT can work. At the end of the day, there is just one important thing: Just do it. Don’t just think, but rather act.

Remarks

If you like this article, we would be happy if you forward it to your colleagues or share it on social networks. If you are an expert in the field and want to criticize or endorse the article or some of its parts, feel free to leave a private note here or contextually and we will respond or address.

  • Our two blockchain books: We have edited two books on how blockchain will change our society (Amazon link) in general and the everything related to finance (Amazon link) in particular. Both books are available in print and for Kindle — currently in German and soon in English. The authors have been more than 20 well-known blockchain experts in startups, corporations and the government from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein — all contributing their expertise to these two books.
Our two books: the first one on blockchain and the society and the second one on blockchain and finance

Authors

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner has founded the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). In 2018 and in 2019, he was ranked as one of the “top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. Further, he belonged to the “Top 40 under 40” — a ranking by the German business magazine Capital. Since 2017, he is member of the FinTech Council of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany. The expertise of Prof. Sandner includes blockchain technology in general, crypto assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, the digital programmable Euro, tokenization of assets and rights and digital identity. You can contact him via mail (email@philipp-sandner.de) via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@philippsandner).

Professor | Lecturer | Author | Investor | Frankfurt School Blockchain Center