Blockchain Fundamentals

This course provides a foundation in the underlying methodology of blockchain, including the roles of participants of mining, minting, and the algorithms that determine consensus.
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6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
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Course code: blf

This course provides a foundation in a practical knowledge of blockchain. Beginning with an understanding of blockchain technology and its intended purpose, the course progresses into blockchain architecture. You will review the enterprise implementation and practical use of blockchain, such as in banking, healthcare and government applications. Throughout the course, you will also learn how blockchain evolved from its beginnings with cryptocurrencies and the role it plays in the trading, distribution, and other transactions that occur with cryptocurrency.

What you will learn

  • Describe the concept of blockchain and its origins.
  • Identify the core problems blockchain solves and how it addresses them.
  • Summarize how businesses are applying blockchain and staffing blockchain projects.
  • Describe how the concept of ownership is elemental to blockchain technology.
  • Describe the purpose and properties of the shared ledger and how it supports data integrity in blockchain applications.
  • Define cryptographic hashing and its role in securing blockchain transactions.
  • Describe what peer nodes are, what they do, and how they communicate.
  • Describe how consensus is maintained on the blockchain.
  • Explain the origination, common applications, and usage of cryptocurrencies.
  • Explain the common application space for blockchain.
  • Explain how to plan and staff a blockchain project.
  • Summarize the potential for the future of blockchain and how it is applied.

How you will benefit

  • Learn how blockchain is widely used in industries, providing secure and real-time systems.
  • You'll understand how blockchain works and be able to explain its benefits to stakeholders.

How the course is taught

  • Instructor-led or self-paced online course
  • 6 Weeks or 3 Months access
  • 24 course hours

This lesson begins our study of blockchain by taking a 30,000-foot view of what blockchain is, how it works, and where it is used. We define some of the specialized terminology you need to understand how blockchain works. You'll learn about the beginnings of Bitcoin with a ground-breaking white paper written by a mysterious author, followed by a discussion of other cryptocurrencies and development platforms.

Why do we even have blockchain? This lesson describes the global financial crisis that led to the problem that blockchain can solve—a lack of trust in traditional financial markets and instruments. Blockchain's greatest advantage is that it secures the data integrity of transactions and supports many common business models.

This lesson illustrates how blockchain is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and provides examples of how specific business sectors—such as the financial, healthcare, and supply chain sectors—are applying blockchain. You'll learn about disruptive companies offering new services by leveraging blockchain. Finally, we summarize the common roles and responsibilities of blockchain team members.

A key concept in the security of transactions stored in blockchain is ownership. This lesson covers how blockchain works to prove ownership of tangible items like homes and less-tangible things like identity while maintaining privacy. We look at the basic security concepts of identity, authentication, and authorization related to proving ownership in blockchain.

This lesson explains how blockchain's shared ledger stores transactions that associate owners with things they own by tracking the history of the item's purchases. Records for an automobile purchase, an airline reservation, medical treatment, bank account information, or payroll records are all examples of transactions that are stored by blockchain's shared ledger. Anyone can access the data while the blockchain conceals the private information of transaction participants through encryption.

Blockchain's great security is based on its use of hashing functions. This lesson delves into the cryptology of blockchains, describing how hash functions work. The lesson goes on to present the concept of digital signatures and shows how blockchain verifies them to authorize transactions.

Blockchain relies on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks to store and maintain data. This lesson identifies common network structures and their characteristics, then explains the attributes and advantages of peer-to-peer networks. The lesson also illustrates how peer nodes support trust in the blockchain.

Because blockchain depends on its network participants to validate transactions and ensure data integrity, the concept of consensus is vital. All nodes on the blockchain must agree that the data presented is valid. This lesson explains how consensus algorithms work, focusing on the Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, and alternative consensus algorithms. The lesson also presents various incentives that blockchain networks use to entice and reward their participants.

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, was the first and is still the most recognized application of blockchain. This lesson defines cryptocurrency and explains its origins and evolution. It also discusses how cryptocurrencies and tokens are monetized, valued, and exchanged.

Blockchain provides transparency, data integrity, and security for transactions. How do businesses actually use it in the real world? This lesson examines core use cases, such as proving existence or non-existence. Then it considers enterprise use cases, along with specific implementations of blockchain such as shared business processes. Finally, it covers application use cases, such as payments and settlements.

So how do you know if blockchain may benefit your organization? This lesson describes how to decide whether or not blockchain is suitable for a given project, then explains the roles of blockchain project team members. Also discussed is the issue of which blockchain platform to choose.

The benefits and characteristics of blockchain provide numerous opportunities for improving processes and disrupting industries. This lesson projects potential future implementations and market disruptions. And while blockchain addresses many business problems, the fact that it is still a young technology with room for improvement is also considered.

David Iseminger is an author and technology veteran, with expertise in computing, networking, wireless and cloud technologies, data and analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. While with Microsoft, David worked on early versions of Windows and its core networking infrastructure, and on transmission protocols, security, data visualizations, and multiple emerging cloud technologies. David is passionate about education, serving as a School Board director for over 10 years, advocating at state and federal levels for increased learning standards, and has taught over 40,000 students through multiple technology courses. He has an awarded patent in Artificial Intelligence (AI) object detection and social posting methodologies, and is the founder and CEO of the blockchain company that created IronWeave, the unlimited scale blockchain platform, based on his patent-pending blockchain innovations and inventions.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

Basic computer skills and high school level mathematics are required.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

Instructor-Led: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.
Self-Paced: You can start this course at any time your schedule permits.

Instructor-Led: Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Self-Paced: You have 3 month access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
Self-Paced: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks plus 10 days (24 days total) to complete the final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.