As Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more popular nowadays, attention has turned to blockchain – the underlying distributed ledger technology that powers these digital currencies. Blockchain helps in the verification and traceability of transactions, provides secure transactions, reduces compliance costs, and speeds up data transfer processing. It is a “trustless” network that offers enhanced security, greater transparency, and instant traceability. Beyond matters of trust, blockchain delivers even more business benefits, including the cost savings from increased speed, efficiency, and automation. By greatly reducing paperwork and errors, blockchain significantly reduces overhead and transaction costs, and reduces or eliminates the need for third parties or middlemen to verify transactions. Blockchain technology can help contract management and product auditing, serve as a basis of voting platforms, help with management of titles and deeds, and much more.
All in all, blockchain technology is finding ever-increasing usage and relevance in today’s digital environment. Moreover, blockchain and smart contract development is currently regarded as one of the highest-paying positions in the software development job market. At International Burch University (IBU), keeping up with the latest entrepreneurial, educational and technological trends is the norm. Wanting to bring relevant theoretical and practical understanding of blockchain and Web3 - a blockchain-powered distributed approach to Web technologies - to their students, IBU and the Department of Information Technologies enlisted the help of Mr. Sulejman Sarajlija. Sulejman Sarajlija is a long-term blockchain and Web3 software developer, and one of the “pioneers” of blockchain-based work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With his help and guidance, two new courses for third-year senior IT students were devised: “Blockchain Fundamentals” and “Advanced Web3 Concepts”.
The courses were envisioned as a connected module. In the first course, “Blockchain Fundamentals” (which took place during the fall semester), students had a chance to learn about the origin and basics of blockchain, its various use cases, and smart contracts - a powerful blockchain feature which allows for the development of complex applications on top of blockchain. The students were familiarized with the fundamentals of blockchain architecture and the development of smart contracts in the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) ecosystem, as well as frontend libraries and other important concepts in cryptography related to Web3 technology. Students were also tasked with developing their own “dApp” (distributed application) - a Web-based application which utilizes the power of smart contracts. In the second course (during the spring semester), students attended “Advanced Web3 Concepts”, which aimed to build on top of the fundamentals obtained in the first course, and introduce students to advanced topics in the Web3 space. In this course, students improved upon their existing smart contract knowledge by learning about concepts such as upgradeable smart contracts, distributed storage, decentralized finance, smart contract security exploits and their prevention, zero-knowledge proofs, etc. By the end of the course, students were familiarized with many real-life blockchain and Web3 use cases. Moreover, students had to prepare research papers in which they explored, in-depth, one of the Web3 topics of their choosing.
The students showed great interest in both courses, and completed them having gained invaluable theoretical and practical understanding of blockchain and Web3 space. These fundamentals can serve as a great stepping stone for our students to engage in future blockchain-based work and projects, and catapult their careers to even greater heights. IBU would like to express its gratitude to Mr. Sulejman Sarajlija who served as the expert from practice and course advisor in both courses. His guidance, dedication and support were vital during the planning, development and implementation of this project. Moreover, IBU extends its gratitude to MSc. Aldin Kovačević, who served as the courses’ teaching assistant and worked with students on practical blockchain and Web3 problems. Finally, IBU thanks professors Dželila Mehanović and Samed Jukić for their efforts in coordinating the inclusion and implementation of these courses into the IT curriculum.
At IBU, it is our sincere hope that providing students with new perspectives and opportunities from various cutting-edge fields will lead to their future academic and professional growth, and prepare them for success in a new, modern job market. This, among many other projects, serves as yet another proof of IBU’s continued excellence and dedication to bringing the very best IT education to its students.