A new lab course on building Bitcoin-enabled applications has just started at Stanford. It has attracted a good deal of interest which had led to the idea of producing a MOOC version if there's sufficient demand.
The syllabus for Bitcoin Engineering (CS251P) reveals that it a fast-paced, hands-on course that requires a background in Python in a Unix environment.
Its first two weeks are an introduction to Bitcoin concepts and Bitcoin micropayements and after that students are expected to build Bitcoin-powered versions of several popular Internet services, starting with Instagram and Twitter, where services are paid for not by ads or monthly fees but by per-use micropayments.
For these projects students will be provided with stub code illustrating the basic mechanics of a Bitcoin-powered Internet service and working individually or in small groups they have a week to get the stub code running, add their own improvements, and test it with their peers in an online marketplace.
The course is being taught by Balaji S. Srinivasan and Dan Boneh. Srinivasan is the co-founder and CEO of 21, the startup that has developed a full stack set of technologies for practical Bitcoin micropayments, including the commercially available 21 Bitcoin Computer, the first computer with native hardware and software support for the Bitcoin protocol.
Dan Boneh is now Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and has been part of the Computer Science MOOC scene over the past 5 years. His Cryptography I was very near the top of The 50 Most Popular MOOCs of All Time when this list, which is based on the number of student enrollments first appeared. Subsequently it has now been relegated a bit, as other courses gain more students. However Boneh's MOOC is also popular in the sense of student ratings with a rating of 4.5 (out of 5) on CourseTalk.
There already is a Bitcoin MOOC on Coursera - Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies which originated at Princeton. This is an 11-week course and has a more introductory approach, addressing questions such as:
How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?
The Stanford MOOC gives developers a chance for hand-on exploration of Bitcoin and be ready to be part of the future of this emerging cryptocurrency technology.
So sign up here to indicate interest (all that is required is you email address and some optional information about your background experience) and spread the word.