DeFi literacy: Universities initiate education on Decentralized Finance (DeFi) [UPDATED]

DeFi literacy Universities initiate education on Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Decentralized Finance or commonly known as DeFi has become one of the most rapidly expanding sectors within the blockchain and crypto ecosystem. According to recent data, the TVL or total value locked in all the DeFi protocols is estimated to be around a staggering amount of $130 billion. TVL is a rather important metric, because analysts presume that it is the best way to measure sentiment within the decentralized finance sector. 

Even though the growth is apparent, there are many individuals who do not possess a clear understanding of what DeFi actually is and how it can be implemented in our society. According to Piers Ridyard, CEO of Radix DLT, DeFi currently is only catering to those with sufficient knowledge in it.

Keeping that in mind, there are a number of DeFi certification, DeFi training, Blockchain certification and cryptocurrency course that impart in depth knowledge regarding the importance of Decentralisation in the world of Blockchain, including Decentralized Finance.

Where can you learn Decentralized Finance

The University of California at Berkeley has recently introduced a MOOC or a massive open online course on Decentralized Finance for their Fall 2021 semester offering. Dawn Song, who is a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Berkeley, stated that she will be leading the DeFi Course, alongside professors from Imperial College London and Stanford. Long, who is also the founder of the blockchain platform Oasis network, stated that DeFi is fundamentally transforming the way of building financial structures and that is why she believes it is important for people to learn about it.

She also mentioned that during the Spring 2021 semester, UC Berkeley offered an experimental, and shorter course on DeFi. The course was so popular among the students that the university has decided to offer a full semester course which focuses on the core concepts of DeFi in detail. 

She described that the first segment covers the introduction to blockchain and smart contracts. The second segment deals with the core elements dealing with different DeFi services including stablecoins, decentralized lending, decentralized exchanges and so on. In addition to that, they even cover oracle and privacy protocol in DeFi, which has proven to be a really important subject lately.

Song even mentioned that because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the course has been designed to be accessed remotely but the curriculum is the same for both the students of UC Berkeley and the MOOC class participants. However, she also mentioned that the students in Berkeley will have to conduct more coursework, which includes working and completing projects which are open ended and also getting practical experience on new technologies emerging within the DeFi ecosystem. In addition to that, those who complete the class will receive Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs, which will be issued to them in the form of certificates.

Despite the fact that the course designed at the UC Berkeley is perhaps the first of its kind, it is important to note that the MOOC is openly accessible for anyone and everyone across the world. She said that there are students joining from Europe, countries in Asia like India and many countries and places outside the United States of America. She further added that in order to stay true to the inclusive and open  standards of DeFi, the goal of this DeFi course is to bring together a bigger community of students by getting together the online participants along with the ones who are already enrolled in courses at Berkeley. At the same time while imparting the education, they are also focused on developing the technology in the DeFi ecosystem.

Wyoming, which is one of the leading places in the world known for its innovations in DeFi, is also offering quality education in the subject at the University of Wyoming. Ali Nejadmalayeri, who is a professor of finance at the University, mentioned that they are actually providing a minor program on Decentralised Finance at the university itself and under that very program there are a wide number of disciplines that the students can opt for and start learning in the form of courses. He himself teaches the course related to the principles of Blockchain and the other related Financial Services. The course is spread across a full semester that takes place online and does contain a portion dedicated to Decentralized Finance. 

He further added that anyone from any part of the world will be able to access the Blockchain and Financial Services course. He stated that if someone is registered as a non traditional student, then it is possible for him/her to access the course. He maintained that the interest in this area of study is increasing and that is reflected in the number of students they are receiving per semester. He only expects that to go up because as per his analysis students who do not come from a non technical background such as computer science or even finance, are becoming increasingly interested in DeFi with passing time.

Even though the United States is considered to be leading the space in terms of innovation and education in Decentralized Finance, some prominent European schools and universities are also offering courses in DeFi in order to drive innovation. For instance, in Cyprus, the University of Nicosia is offering a free MOOC on DeFi from the 11th of October this year. The executive director of the Institute for Future, George Giaglis, stated that although the University of Nicosia have been offering free courses on Blockchain and Crypto ever since 2013, it is true that DeFi as a specific branch of discipline has not been covered properly yet. The course has been very successful since it has been attended so far by almost 45,000 students from various parts of the world, and keeping that in mind, the University has decided to offer a six week long course solely dedicated to DeFi only.

Giaglis confirmed that the course will cover the fundamentals of the core areas of DeFi in detail, which includes a full application stack for DeFi comprising of automated market making, decentralized exchanges, liquidity mining, decentralized insurance, oracles, synthetic assets, stablecoins, lending and borrowing, yield farming and so on. It would also cover tokenmics, governance and DAOs. Even though the course is completely free of cost, Giaglis mentioned that there is a provision of securing a certificate of completion issued by the UNIC and which will also be verifiable through blockchain. 

Apart from UNIC, the European Tech School which launched in the month of July, is offering two courses of DeFi which discusses the core concepts of the subject in great detail. Victoria Gago who is the co Chief Executive Officer of the European Tech School, stated that these courses are short and focused on comprehensive learning. The students would be required to pay a fee and a letter of application in order to be shortlisted for the course. 

Conclusion: What are the hindrances of teaching Decentralized Finance?

Experts believe that while it is great that the universities nowadays are offering comprehensive courses on DeFi, it is also true that the rapidly shifting nature of the cryptocurrency sector may pose a challenge for the professors in imparting education on the subject.

For instance, designing a syllabus that highlights the most important and relevant topics in the world of DeFi may become problematic. According to Professor Nejadmalayeri, he had to change his entire syllabus on the course for Blockchain and Financial Services because the DeFi market started gaining traction all of a sudden. However the experts and professors are of the opinion that courses on DeFi are not only here to stay but they will become an integral part of financial education moving forward from now on. 


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