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Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

18 Weeks

Overview

Upon completion of this course, students will understand bitcoin, including its history, development, and context within the modern global economy. Students will learn the basic cryptographic principles that underlie bitcoin and gain confidence by demonstrating strong security principles in storing and transaction bitcoin. Key principles such as mining, wallets, and hashing will be introduced. And finally, they will be familiarized with the nascent industry of digital currencies and how they function.

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Major Topics and Concepts

Module 1: What is Bitcoin?

  • List four definitions of bitcoin and describe what each of them means
  • Identify drivers of the value of bitcoin
  • Examine the historical price of bitcoin and label drivers of major price movements
  • Compare bitcoin with other methods of payment
  • Find the current price of bitcoin and convert bitcoins to US dollars and vice versa
  • Describe the divisibility of bitcoin and how this enables micropayments
  • Recognize the risks of using bitcoin as a currency and as an extremely speculative investment

Module 2: Cryptography for Beginners

  • Describe encryption, decryption, and ciphers
  • Define hash function, algorithm, and one-way function
  • Demonstrate how to get a hash function from a text string input
  • Describe the 3 main properties of a hash function
  • Review exponents and evaluate the importance of mathematics in cryptography
  • Discuss shortcomings of previous attempts at creating a digital currency and why they failed
  • Describe how bitcoin addresses the double spend problem

Module 3: Public and Private Keys

  • Define a cryptographic public key and cryptographic private key
  • Describe how a private and public key pair control ownership of bitcoin
  • Evaluate methods and best practices for securing private keys
  • Demonstrate the use of a digital signature
  • Define multi-sig and explain how this is used to control bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • Identify future career opportunities and pathways in bitcoin

Module 4: Nodes, Wallets, and Addresses

  • Define a bitcoin node
  • Describe the four functions of nodes in the bitcoin network
  • Define a bitcoin address and explain the difference between an address and a wallet
  • Compare a digital wallet with a physical wallet
  • Categorize the five wallet platforms
  • Contrast hardware wallets and software wallets
  • Demonstrate how to open a bitcoin wallet
  • Select a commercial bitcoin wallet provider to evaluate and describe its key characteristics

Module 5: Bitcoin Mining

  • Define bitcoin mining, proof of work, and other key terms related to mining
  • Describe the characteristics of the mathematical puzzle that miners must solve and verify to win a mining round
  • Describe the history and development of bitcoin mining, including the increase in hashing power of the system
  • Evaluate the characteristics of how to make bitcoin mining profitable
  • Examine the incentives of miners and nodes to support the bitcoin network
  • Discuss the pros and cons of the high energy usage required in bitcoin mining

Module 6: Transacting Bitcoin

  • Describe the steps to completing a bitcoin transaction (either receiving money or paying using bitcoin)
  • Demonstrate how to transfer, receive, and spend bitcoin
  • Identify transaction inputs and transaction outputs
  • Explain transaction costs for both buyers and sellers, and compare them across payment methods
  • Contrast the irreversibility of bitcoin transactions with other electronic payment networks
  • Compare the pros and cons of being a bitcoin merchant
  • Describe the Lightning Network and how it is able to reduce transaction costs

Module 7: Bitcoin Security

  • Compare the security of holding value in bitcoin wallets to holding dollars in a bank or in the stock market
  • Evaluate the security of the bitcoin network
  • Describe a 51% attack
  • Examine the vulnerability of the bitcoin network to quantum computing developments
  • Define pseudonymity, anonymity, and privacy in the context of bitcoin transactions
  • Identify best practices of securing personal wallets and bitcoin holdings

Module 8: Bitcoin and Money

  • Describe the three principle characteristics of money
  • Define monetary system, inflation, and deflation
  • Evaluate give historical examples of hyperinflation
  • Examine the historical types of money
  • List the properties of a strong currency and evaluate Bitcoin’s strength based on these properties
  • Discuss the principle of trust associated with various forms of money
  • Research a historical monetary unit, describing and evaluating how it was used as currency

Module 9: Altcoins and Regulation

  • Define altcoin and explain features of bitcoin that can be altered
  • Contrast features of bitcoin with other major altcoins such as Litecoin, Dash, and Ripple
  • Define cryptocurrency market capitalization, demonstrate how it is calculated, and look up its current value
  • Evaluate the altcoin Ethereum, describing its features and smart contracts
  • Describe Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and venture capital and compare how they are used to raise money for new projects
  • Examine proposed or existing regulations and discuss how government actions may impact bitcoin and altcoins
  • Choose an altcoin or token and describe its purpose and features

Module 10: Bitcoin: The Past and the Future

  • List key issues that affect bitcoin’s price and network
  • Define a fork and describe the reasons behind past forks in the bitcoin network
  • Differentiate between a hard fork and a soft fork
  • Evaluate the block size debate and identify how the block size affects transaction fees and costs
  • List locations for credible information and updates on bitcoin developments including twitter, reddit, podcasts, and credible news outlets
  • Summarize the potential of bitcoin and blockchain technologies to redefine transfer of value and monetary systems
  • Choose a recent or current issue in cryptocurrencies and describe and evaluate the arguments made by both sides

Credits .5

Competencies

  • Bitcoin Fundamentals
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of bitcoin fundamentals by describing the uniqueness and risks of bitcoin, differentiating the drivers of value for bitcoin with other methods of payment, and explaining the conversion of the current price of bitcoin.
  • Cryptography Foundations
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of cryptography foundations by describing cryptography processes, explaining the use of cryptographic hash functions, and evaluating shortcomings of previous attempts at digital currency.
  • Public and Private Keys in Bitcoin
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of public and private keys in bitcoin by differentiating public and private keys in bitcoin, evaluating methods for securing private keys in bitcoin, and explaining the use of digital signatures in bitcoin.
  • Function of Bitcoint Components
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the functions of bitcoin components by explaining the functions of nodes in the bitcoin network, explaining functions of bitcoin addresses, and explaining the function of wallets.
  • Acquisition of Bitcoin through Mining
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the acquisition of bitcoin through mining by explaining the process of bitcoin mining, explaining the incentives of bitcoin mining, and explaining the pros and cons of energy use in bitcoin mining.
  • Bitcoin Transactions
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of bitcoin transactions by explaining steps to transact with bitcoin, describing input and output transactions, and evaluating the importance of bitcoin transaction costs for buyers and sellers.
  • Security of the Bitcoin Network
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of security of the bitcoin network by explaining the privacy of bitcoin transactions, explaining the security of holding value in bitcoin wallets, and explaining bitcoin blockchain vulnerabilities.
  • Money, Currency and Bitcoin
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of money, currency and bitcoin by explaining the characteristics of money, describing the properties of a strong currency, and evaluating the Impacts of bitcoin on the value of money.
  • Altcoins and Regulations
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of altcoins and regulations by explaining features of bitcoin that can be altered, explaining the use of cryptocurrency market capitalization, explaining the use of initial coin offerings, and explaining the regulations impacting bitcoin and altcoin.
  • The Future of Bitcoin
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the future of bitcoin by explaining the ongoing issue of hard and soft forks, explaining potential changes in block sizes, and explaining the future of bitcoin developments.

Pre-Requisites

None

Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.