Opinion: Why is Blockchain So Important? A 1-Min Reading for Beginners

By Mikel Amigot

It’s not just a buzzword. Blockchain is a true technological advancement that will transform the financial, medical, legal, and software services industries.

This week I attended the 2018 Finovate conference in New York and noticed how many high-profile banking and supply-chain executives were paying extreme attention.

For sure, blockchain-based networks, decentralized apps, and distributed ledgers are quietly changing the world. When the concept was introduced in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, an unknown person or people who later developed the bitcoin digital currency, no one predicted this upcoming revolution.

Why is this so relevant?

A blockchain is a secure and distributed database, which maintains a growing list of ordered and encrypted records, called blocks. Each block has a link to a previous block, a timestamp –the date and time when the record was created– and the history of every file. Users can only edit the parts of the encrypted blocks that they “own”, as they possess the needed, cryptographically created private keys to write to it (obviously, these private keys, which are a few lines of data, can be stolen; but also they can be secured at almost no expense).

In addition to this immutable ledger that the network maintains, a blockchain has another primary component: a decentralized, autonomously managed, peer-to-peer network. This makes blockchain excellent for recording every digital transaction, exchange of goods and services, medical records, contracts, electoral voting, identity management, and private data. Naturally, it opens the possibility of mass disintermediation of transaction and trade processing, eliminating any “middleman”. Also, the usefulness of blockchain extends to storing any kind of digital information, including software.

In other words, it’s a new Internet of value, a transformative technology of the second digital age.

[Disclosure: at IBL we are creating self-paced and adaptive Blockchain for Business courses for organizations]

        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

Opinion: A Surprisingly Powerful Teaching Tool

By Mikel Amigot

Jupyter Notebook is a surprisingly powerful teaching tool.

If you are an educator, engineer or scientist and haven’t heard about Jupyter, you should take the time to learn about it.

Tim O’Reilly said that Jupyter is “the next big thing.”

This technology has received the 2017 ACM Software System Award.

Essentially, Jupyter Notebook is an open-source web application to create and share documents with live code, equations, visualizations, and text.

Currently, it is mostly used for Data Science and Machine Learning, but it goes far beyond. Its tools are easily extensible – e.g., you can play mp4 movie files.

In education, Jupyter opens a new pedagogical model. It is also a new genre of OER.


        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

Opinion: The Time of Micro-Credentials

By Mikel Amigot

In parallel with the need for continuous learning, we need to showcase our new knowledge to employers. This is the time of digital micro-credentials.

For a fraction of the price of a classic Master’s degree, a growing number of institutions and schools are starting to offer short-form certificate programs.

These offerings are an opportunity to learn and help update specific, career-enhancing skills.

Beyond traditional colleges, Coursera, edX, Udacity and Pluralsight are convenient educational platforms to acquire micro-credentials.

To grant non-credit certificates, Coursera offers Specializations; edX, MicroMasters; Udacity, Nanodegrees; and Pluralsight, certificates of completion.

        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

Opinion: Who Has the Time to Enroll in College Programs?

By Mikel Amigot

With the job market changing so rapidly, our current knowledge is becoming outdated more quickly.

Innovation in AI, data sciences and technology requires refreshed skills.

When you work 60 hours per week, who has the time and energy to enroll in traditional college programs?

Taking well-designed, learner-oriented online courses is the answer – throughout our lifetime.

Stanford University’s vision for Higher Education in 2025 points to an interesting model: students take a few courses to gain skills and fill a job, and later return to school to add needed skills, following a continuous cycle until retirement.

We will subscribe to college like we access Netflix or Amazon Prime.


        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

Opinion: Knowledge with Expiration Date

By Mikel Amigot

Our technical knowledge has as an expiration date. To secure our competitive advantage, we must focus on continuous learning.

Past success doesn’t guarantee future achievement. We need to set a learning mindset and drive towards change. Market transformation is speeding up, alongside our competitors.

Experts suggest that 40-60 percent of jobs will be lost by 2030 due to automation and new technologies. And by 2020, 40 percent of the workforce will be independent contractors, according to Harry Elam, Senior Vice Provost for Education at Stanford University.

In this scenario, we are required to be life-long learners.


        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

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