Swayam, an Indian government initiative to provide access to equal education opportunities, launched a course on Blockchain Architecture Design and its use cases in partnership with IBM. The twelve week course that is conducted by Prof. Sandip Chakraborty and Dr. Praveen Jayachandran covers a wide range of topics necessary for a good foundational understanding of the concepts that power a blockchain.
Swayam is an initiative by the Indian government to provide access to free quality education for everyone. It seeks to impart knowledge of digital technologies to those who have been left out of the digital revolution. It can be accessed freely by anyone, anytime. While being free does not mean that the quality is compromised. All the courses are designed and conducted by the best professors in the country. Each course includes video lectures, reading material for self-study, self-assessment test and an online discussion for solving the queries. The course quality is assessed by nine National Coordinators to ensure the latest in the industry is delivered through this medium.
This program is a commendable effort by the Indian government to improve the quality of education and to quicken the pace of delivery. This is also a class-apart from traditional technical education where most of the syllabus is still outdated and the delivery is usually by a professor who has little or no industry experience.
Blockchain Architecture Design course
The specific course is well-designed covering the basic concepts of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, consensus mechanisms and types of blockchains. It also provides a great variety of use cases for blockchain. They have an optional online assessment and certification system which can be administered at a cost of Rs. 1000/-
However, it is biased in the sense that it has more than three week part on IBM Hyperledger, pushing IBM’s technology much as Microsoft had done with MS-SQL database. Proprietary technologies such as these usually lose out to open source code in the long run. Today, open source PHP and Node.js are more popular than Microsoft’s suite of products.
This is in 2019 when most of the development is being done on permissionless blockchains and experts in the industry do not even consider a permission blockchain without immutability to be a real implementation of a blockchain. It leads one to believe that the purpose of this course is nothing more than creating programmers skilled in the implementation of IBM’s technology – which is pointed out as one of the only two critiques of the technology. Most of these engineers will be out of business if this technology doesn’t survive.
The current trend shows that most of the Distributed Apps (DApps) are being built on Ethereum or Tron.
Another worrying indicator of this bias is the fact that one of the professors is an IBM employee. A person being paid to work on one technology that has virtually no implementation or acceptance in the industry cannot be the best person to mold curious young minds.
This course will definitely push more engineers to study and understand this revolutionary technology. But it will not be in the right perspective. Courses like these are the reason India becomes a semi-skilled body-shop market for the tech world rather than churning out cutting-edge technology products right from Bangalore or Mumbai.
I would recommend aspiring students to head to various blockchain and cryptocurrency courses on Coursera or EdX.
PS: This makes me want to check out the whole concept of Swayam. If every course is hijacked by one company in guise of partnership, it is a corrupt hole that needs to be avoided.
Cover Image by mmi9 from Pixabay
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