Course Review: Blockchain Revolution

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are technologies I've been fascinated by for years and both have the potential to transform our lives over the coming decade.

53% of global enterprises believe that blockchain will be a critical, 'top five' strategic priority by 2021.

Deloitte Blockchain Statistics 2019

Earlier this year I decided to trade some Netflix time for online learning and I went looking for courses in the areas I had interest in. Whilst I already had a reasonable technical understanding from getting the IBM Blockchain Developer badge, I chose the Blockchain Revolution Specialization on Coursera because it took a different angle. A lot of what I knew about blockchain was either about cryptocurrencies, or came from a technical angle but this specialisation focused more on the business impacts.

The specialisation is made up of four individual courses:

  1. Introduction to Blockchain Technologies
  2. Transacting on the Blockchain
  3. Blockchain and Business: Applications and implications
  4. Blockchain Opportunity Analysis

The course was run by the business school INSEAD and hosted by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott from the Blockchain Research Institute. Don is somewhat of a technology industry soothsayer, riding the wave of emerging technologies and applying business principles to examine where the technology might go. Alex seemed much stronger on his connection to financial services, providing insight into how blockchain might disrupt finance. I believe that the course is a couple of years old now but content and reading materials have been updated. Becoming stagnant is always a risk with content in fast changing technologies but overall it felt absolutely current and relevant so no worries there.

Starting with a decent understanding of the technology already, I had worried a little that the first course would be too much recap but actually the instructors have done a great job of taking different angles and perspectives to keep it interesting. I actually learned quite a lot in that first course as they cover a range of projects and challenges and throughout the courses they provide excellent recommended reading material.

The second course adds more depth both from a technical and business perspective and I also took a lot from it. The third course gets much more into the business side, detailing how the properties of blockchain map to business models, executive job functions and the crossover with the legal profession. The only part I didn't really like in this course was the fifth week where the course takes a much more political/social angle and it really felt a bit more like an indoctrination than training.

The last course is where you really have to put in the work, whilst the others have quizzes and the odd assignment, the last course is all about assignments. The course walks you through analysing potential blockchain use cases, how to carry out market research and perform competitor analysis, then finally putting together a business model.

I found this last section fascinating. I really engaged with the concept, creating a business model based on Connected Car data and it was a great experience.

My main criticism of the course is the reliance on peer review for the assignments. This is my first Coursera course so it may be a general comment on the platform, but I just found it a real mixed bag. Sometimes I'd be waiting for a couple days to be graded, sometimes I saw people submitting one word answers for assignments and getting passed whist others marked really harshly even though the answers were detailed.

The content of the course however, was spot on. I really felt at the end that I'd learned a lot and would be better placed to start working in the Blockchain space. So, I'm glad to have completed the course and you can find my certificate in the Learning section of the site.