Bitcoin 101: Cryptocurrency Classes Are Cropping Up At Area Colleges

By Ally Marotti
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Some professors are altering lesson plans that before just grazed the subject of digital currency, while some schools are adding entire bitcoin and blockchain classes to their course lists.

CHICAGO

At DePaul University, cryptocurrency has become a fundamental part of some finance courses.

Until recently, bitcoin came up only at the end of assistant professor Lamont Black’s undergraduate and graduate finance classes. It was the last day of class, “the fun day,” Black said, when they discussed the future of money and the possibilities of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But things have changed.

Digital currency is now part of the classes’ discussions surrounding the definition of money, a core concept in courses that cover money, banking and capital markets. “My students are starting the class thinking about it now,” Black said.

Just as bitcoin has infiltrated conversations, headlines and financial exchanges, lessons on the digital currency and its underlying technology are springing up in university classrooms around Illinois. Some professors are altering lesson plans that before just grazed the subject, while some schools are adding entire bitcoin and blockchain classes to their course lists.

The price of bitcoin spiked at more than $19,000 late last year, sending many people on quests for fortune and a better understanding of the potential gold strike. The CBOE Futures Exchange in early December became the first traditional exchange to offer bitcoin futures trading, and contracts for the virtual currency debuted on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange shortly after.

Those milestones added legitimacy to bitcoin, and public interest has lingered even as its price has come down _ it was trading at about $9,300 Thursday. Though many experts remain trepidatious about bitcoin’s long-term prospects, it’s becoming clear that knowledge of cryptocurrency and blockchain, the technology underlying digital currencies, could be vital for students’ future careers.

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