Decentralized finance, or DeFi, has become one of the fastest growing sectors within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The data shows that the Total Value Locked (TVL) in all DeFi protocols is now around $ 130 billion. This is an important metric as some analysts see TVL as one of the best ways to measure sentiment in the DeFi sector.
Although the growth is evident, many people may still wonder what DeFi is and how it can be applied today. Piers Ridyard, Chief Executive Officer of Radix DLT – a secure decentralized network – stated that DeFi currently only appeals to users with sufficient knowledge of the crypto market.
With that in mind, it’s noteworthy that a small number of universities are now offering DeFi-focused courses to educate enrolled students and the general public about the fundamentals of decentralized systems.
Where you can learn more about DeFi
The University of California at Berkeley recently added a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) on Decentralized Finance to its Fall 2021 semester.
Dawn Song, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley and founder of the Oasis Network blockchain platform, told Cointelegraph that she will co-lead the DeFi course with professors from Stanford and Imperial College London. According to Song, DeFi is evolving into a radically new way to build a financial infrastructure, which is why it’s important for students everywhere to look into the subject:
“Approximately 300 computer science and finance students have signed up for the course, but given the tremendous interest from DeFi, we also offer a MOOC version that is open to everyone around the world. In total, over 1,400 students have signed up for Berkeley’s DeFi course. “
Song mentioned that UC Berkeley had previously offered a shorter, more experimental DeFi course in the spring of 2021. She explained that due to the success and interest of this class, the university is now offering a year-round course covering key concepts in DeFi.
“The first section of the course includes an introduction to smart contacts and blockchain. The second segment is the core where we will be discussing various DeFi services including stablecoins, decentralized exchanges, decentralized lending and more, “said Song, adding,” We will also be covering oracles and privacy protocols in DeFi that turn out to be big topic lately. “
Song pointed out that the DeFi course will be completely remote due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the curriculum will be the same for both UC Berkeley students and MOOC class attendees. However, she mentioned that the Berkeley students will be doing other course work, such as open class projects and hands-on experience developing new technologies in the DeFi area. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are issued as certificates to those who complete the course.
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While UC Berkeley’s DeFi course is one of the first of its kind, it’s noteworthy that the MOOC is open to anyone around the world. “We have students from Europe, India, Asia and other regions outside of the US taking the class,” said Song. Staying true to DeFi’s open, inclusive standards, she added that the goal of Berekely’s DeFi course is to match online participants with Berkeley enrolled students to create a larger community while improving the technology in the room .
Wyoming, a leading state in blockchain innovation, also offers DeFi training to students at the University of Wyoming. Ali Nejadmalayeri, a professor of finance at the University of Wyoming, told Cointelegraph that the university offers a blockchain minor and that various disciplines of the sector can be studied as courses.
For example, Nejadmalayeri teaches the Blockchain and Financial Services Course, a year-round online course that includes a portion on DeFi concepts:
“The first part of this spring semester course focused on an introduction and overview of the blockchain sector. The second module looked at the sphere of digital money, which included early experiments with electronic money and central bank digital currencies. DeFi was the last part where we discussed platforms like Uniswap and Aave as well as various applications. ”
According to Nejadmalayeri, anyone in the world can take the blockchain and financial services course. “If you are admitted as a non-traditional student, you can take the course,” he explained, adding that about 10 students took the course in the spring semester. However, given the interest in DeFi, he expects that number to increase in the future, and points out that people with no computer science or financial background will find DeFi interesting:
“You have the people who can code, but DeFi products need to target a specific clientele. Insider knowledge about these specific industries is important and will therefore be the focus of many of these courses. “
Although the United States is considered the leading region for DeFi adoption, according to data from crypto intelligence company Chainalysis, European universities and schools are also offering DeFi courses to drive innovation.
For example, the University of Nicosia (UNIC) in Cyprus is offering a free DeFi MOOC from October 11th. George Giaglis, executive director of the Institute for the Future of UNIC, told Cointelegraph that although UNIC had offered a free introductory course in crypto and blockchain had only been briefly covered since 2013, DeFi has been covered. Given the success of the course – which has attracted over 45,000 students from different countries – UNIC is now offering a six-week online course devoted exclusively to DeFi.
Giaglis announced that the curriculum will cover all DeFi basics: “This includes the entire DeFi application stack (decentralized exchanges, automated market making, lending and borrowing, liquidity mining, yield farming, decentralized insurance, synthetic assets, oracles, stablecoins) , Governance, Tokenomics, DAOs. ”Although the course is completely free, Giaglis noted that there is an optional cost for graduates seeking a UNIC-issued, blockchain-verifiable certificate of completion.
In addition to UNIC, the European Tech School – which started in July and comprises two blockchain programs – is also discussing DeFi in detail. Victoria Gago, Co-CEO of the European Tech School, told Cointelegraph that both the Blockchain Executive Program course and the Certified Blockchain Expert Course include a DeFi unit taught by Monica Singer, the South African director of ConsenSys.
Unlike the other DeFi courses mentioned, Gago believes these blockchain courses are small and focused – students have to pay a fee to attend and also submit an application for admission. Gago stated:
“These are all cohort-based, live, online courses starting September 15th. The courses will consist of 25 students each to ensure that the students can interact with professors and their colleagues. “
According to Gago, what is now commonly referred to as decentralized funding will eventually just become finance in the future, which is why she believes teaching DeFi-focused courses is necessary: ”We hope that the students who take these courses prove to be able to build an effective network “. by being surrounded by others who are there to learn and contribute to the blockchain sector. ”
Challenges in teaching DeFi
While it’s noteworthy that universities are starting to offer DeFi courses, the rapid development of the cryptocurrency sector can pose challenges for professors.
For example, creating a curriculum that covers the most relevant topics in DeFi can be problematic. Nejadmalayeri explained that he had to change everything in his blockchain and financial services course during the spring semester of 2021 when DeFi gained in importance: “I had to take out a lot of my lectures and replace them with DeFi concepts.”
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Echoing these concerns, Giaglis noted that developing a curriculum can be difficult when there is almost nothing to rely on and when the sector is literally changing from day to day: “Suffice it to say that We do not consider the material complete at any time: we will make changes by (and beyond) the date of each meeting and will continue to make changes to reflect new developments. “
However, industry participants believe that DeFi courses will stay and become an integral part of future education. For example, Alex Tapscott, author and lecturer on Coursera’s Blockchain Revolution Specialization course series, told Cointelegraph that as the DeFi industry grows, so will the demand for educational content:
“In the early days of Bitcoin, schools like Cornell and Berkeley started offering courses around the subject. I wouldn’t be surprised if DeFi was part of the curriculum in every MBA program going forward. We’re still very early. ”
Additionally, Chainalysis Director of Research, Kimberly Grauer, told Cointelegraph that DeFi courses will be an ongoing trend at many universities alongside the likely inclusion of other crypto-related courses: “In that sense, DeFi acts as a fundamental building block.” for a wider range of classes. ”