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BLK-104 Introduction to Smart Contracts is a Course

BLK-104 Introduction to Smart Contracts

Started Feb 18, 2021

$99 Enroll

Full course description

Course Description: 

General Objectives

The objectives of this course are to equip the student with an understanding of smart contracts. Students will understand why and how blockchain coins are essential to the proper operation of a smart contract. Students will be confident in their understanding of the various blockchains (that have Turing complete code) that might be well positioned to serve as an appropriate blockchain infrastructure on which to build and operate smart contracts for their departments, programs and projects.

Specific Objectives

In particular, this course will give students both theoretical and experiential understandings with respect to the following:

  • Foundational concepts, features, design elements and uses of smart contracts.

  • The consensus algorithm, software coding language, native digital currency, coin supply and monetary policy of various smart contract infrastructures.

  • The position that Ethereum has taken as the dominant and preferred blockchain infrastructure for smart contracts.

  • The history, features, virtues and challenges associated with Ethereum.

  • The various smart contract infrastructures that have emerged to compete with Ethereum.

  • The various smart contract infrastructures that have emerged to collaborate with Ethereum.

  • Implementations that have emerged to bring privacy to Ethereum.

  • The degree to which Ethereum might disrupt itself when it releases Ethereum 2.0.

  • Specific examples of smart contract use cases and user experiences, including experiences in industrial and transportation infrastructure.

Course Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

   A. Students will return to their departments and be equipped to assess which smart contract infrastructure to select for their programs and projects:  Students will be able to perform such assessments in the following dimensions:

  1. Technology, language and design.

  2. Economics, soundness of coins and quality of monetary policy.

  3. Governance and community stability.

  B. Students will have an understanding of how smart contracts and a tokenized community can immediately add value to the student’s department, programs and projects. Benefits that would inure to the student’s department, programs and projects would include:

  1. Heightened audience engagement.

  2. Empowerment and greater voice to stakeholders and impacted constituencies (customers, labor, local populations).

  3. Reduced capital and operational spend.

  4. Increased revenue.

  5. Improved decision-making though conversion of unknown unknowns to known knowns; heightened awareness of risks, tactical options and new opportunities; proffering of innovative ideas from heretofore undiscovered thought leaders in the world.

  C. Students will have an awareness of the perspectives and concerns of regulatory agencies.

  D. Students will be able to bring thought leadership and policy recommendations to regulators.

  E. Students will develop their own informed opinion as to whether the United States infrastructure should hasten (or resist) the adoption of smart contracts.

Module 1:  Fundamentals of Smart Contracts; Ethereum.

Module Description

This module examines the properties, operation and history of smart contracts. The module also examines the approach taken by regulatory agencies and policymakers to blockchain infrastructures for smart contracts. Students will also be introduced to Ethereum as Infrastructure 1.0 for smart contracts. The module describes the origin, history, features and uses of Ethereum.

Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to describe the properties and qualities of a smart contracts.

  2. Students will be able to describe why a coin is essential for the operation of a smart contract.

  3. Students will be able to describe the criteria necessary for a sound blockchain infrastructure on which smart contracts can operate.

  4. Students will be able to describe the history behind Ethereum and its virtues as a first mover for smart contract infrastructure.

  5. Students will also understand the challenges that have faced Ethereum and why Ethereum 2.0 might be positioned to overcome these challenges. 

Module 2:  Ethereum Competitors.

Module Description.

This module gives students an understanding as to why various actors were motivated to compete with Ethereum.  The student will become acquainted at a high level with various prominent actors that have emerged to compete with Ethereum as a preferred blockchain infrastructure for smart contracts.

Outcomes.

Students will be able to describe various competitors to Ethereum. More significantly, students will be able to perform due diligence on and properly assess any candidate for blockchain infrastructure for smart contracts to be selected and engaged by the student’s department, programs or projects.  Such assessments will be made against the following criteria:

  1. Technology soundness.

  2. Sophistication of coding language (e.g., imperative v. functional).

  3. Coin supply and monetary policy.

  4. Team and founders.

  5. Domicile and legal status.

  6. Assessment by regulators.

  7. Governance and stability of the community. 

Module 3: Ethereum Collaborators; Ethereum 2.0.

Module Description

This module examines various blockchain infrastructures that have emerged not to compete with Ethereum but rather to collaborate.  The module then examines the features and uses of Ethereum 2.0, with special focus placed on how Ethereum 2.0 might be postured to overcome challenges such as scalability and gas fee volatility.

Outcomes.

  1. Students will be able to describe Ethereum collaborators and to distinguish them as a category from Ethereum competitors. 

  2. Students will be able to do the same with respect to Ethereum 2.0. 

  3. More significantly, students will be able to perform even more rigorous due diligence on any candidate for blockchain infrastructure.

Module 4:  Use Cases.

Module Description

Having become acquainted with smart contract features and operation, as well as the blockchain infrastructure underlying smart contracts, students will be walked through a number of specific use cases involving smart contracts.

Outcomes

  1. Students will have a confidence in their understanding as to how smart contracts have real world applicability in everyday experiences across numerous infrastructures and sectors, including mining, agriculture, logistics, transportation, manufacturing, communications, financial services and alternative dispute resolution.

Module 5: Crowdfunding, Oracles, Privacy.

Module Description

This module examines the specific use case of disintermediated crowdfunding on the blockchain using smart contracts. The origin, history, uses, risks and regulatory concerns associated with disintermediated crowdfunding are examined. The module then examines the use of oracles with respect to smart contracts. Decentralized oracles are examined as a possible improvement over centralized oracles, and the student is exposed to some examples of decentralized oracles in use today.  The module then examines how privacy might be brought to smart contracts, and examples are provided in the form of actual, live projects. Finally, the module identifies the various approaches to solving for scalability that have emerged in the landscape of smart contracts.

Outcomes 

A. Students will be able to assess and determine whether and to what extent disintermediated crowdfunding:

  • is positioned to disrupt IPOs, GoFundMe and Kickstarter;

  • an be applied to infrastructure; and

  • might actually constitute Crowdfunding 2.0.

B. Students will also be able to make informed decisions as to how oracles should be incorporated into projects in their departments, programs and projects. Students will be able to understand the implications and risks of privacy protocols in the domain of smart contracts. Students will have a confidence that scalability will likely be solved (in the same way as it was for a young Internet twenty-five years ago).

 

Course Reading Materials: 

The following documents, articles, standards, and other reference materials will be used as a basis for this course and are considered mandatory reading for completion of the course. Content from any of these sources may be used as part of the quizzes and other assessments. Specific reading assignments from these sources are included with each Learning Module. Where possible, reading materials are linked from within each Module to the online Course Library; otherwise external sources will launch in a new window/tab."[NOTE: The use of any private company’s or vendor’s resources are strictly for illustrative purposes and information provided about the Module topic and does not imply any endorsement or recommendation of such vendor or their products or services by National Infrastructure Security and Resilience U (NISRU) or the InfraGard National Members Alliance (INMA).]"

 

Lab Assignments:

In the lab assignments, you will learn how to engage smart contracts and use cases in blockchain in the context of a simulated hydroelectric plant that has been tokenized on the blockchain.  These lab assignments will equip you with powerful experiential knowledge of smart contracts and blockchain technology in the context of infrastructure.   

 

Thought Leadership:

One of the primary outputs of this course is to position you to engage blockchain, which is still in its infancy, as a thought leader.  Stated otherwise, you will be positioned to engage infrastructure issues and determine whether and to what extent blockchain might introduce solutions or new value, and you will push blockchain to surpass itself and grow into the maturity that will be demanded of it by the infrastructure challenges of today and tomorrow.