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Andhra Pradesh, India Launches Online Blockchain Technology Course

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The National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Andhra Pradesh recently launched a short-term online course to provide an overview of public and private blockchains. According to a statement from the institute, the course was aimed at computer science engineers, research scientists with an interest in blockchains and IT professionals working as blockchain architects, developers and network operators.

The course provided in-depth information on blockchain and its history. It was offered under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) initiative, launched by the Institute’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The Institute said that the course provided an exposure to the evolution of trust and drew parallels to significant societal developments where information technology tools played a key role. The approach enabled the participants to understand the origins of blockchains in a unique way, NIT claimed. In addition to providing a comprehensive study, the course explored a critical look at the architectural elements of public and private blockchains and discussed various trade-offs.

During the course, instructors showed how consensus mechanisms play a vital role in developing highly available distributed solutions and argued that given that foundation, building distributed applications becomes extremely easy. This argument was supported by presenting a case study involving the construction of serverless gold exchange. It was concluded by discussing possible topics for future research. Participants were taught through lectures, case studies and hands-on laboratory sessions. The primary objectives of the online course were:

  • To expose participants to the current state-of-the-art public and private blockchains.
  • To provide tools to the participants to critically evaluate problems that could benefit from the technology and those that do not.
  • To explore the architectural overview and draw contrasts between public and private blockchains.
  • To present practical problems and offer solutions through case studies in blockchains.
  • To point to several research and development efforts that are underway and some challenges that lie ahead.

As blockchain adoption is growing rapidly, there is a need to support studies and research at the postgraduate (PG) level and encourage PhD students to tackle problems in the field. According to the government’s National Strategy on Blockchain, which was released last December, the government plans to work with educational institutes to retrofit blockchain courses in the existing undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum. Blockchain is inherently complex, and, therefore, academia should be involved in designing and implementing courses to address the skill requirements, the strategy explained. Further, as blockchain applications have legal and regulatory dimensions, appropriate courses should be designed for law schools.

The government launched the Future Skills PRIME programme in 2018 to upskill and reskill the country’s workforce in emerging technologies, including blockchain. The programme has an ecosystem backed by the IT industry, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the government. The strategy claimed the programme can be leveraged to foster the blockchain talent pool in the country. It also suggested the creation of sandbox environments to develop and test blockchain applications and to offer virtual training.

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