Fueled by Student and Industry Demand, Higher Ed Must Pivot Towards Emerging Technologies, Including Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

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The University of Southern California is laying out a blueprint to maintain relevance in a topsy-turvy world that dictates that students be able to think critically and respond to external stimuli.
I think we can all agree that it isn’t fair. Students engaging in the college experience during this pandemic have received the short end of the stick. Yet, what they’ve lost in the typical social experience, they may make up for in resiliency –  perhaps the most important attribute of a new hire.
USC, which first taught a class on blockchain technology in 2017, is beginning to offer a blockchain minor through its Viterbi School of Engineering, made available for those participating in the information technology program.
The program doesn’t take a position on the financial aspect of blockchain technologies, including cryptocurrencies. Instead, the program is designed to enable students to learn how the technology works. Whatever your view on cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies –  upon which cryptocurrencies are built –  is transformative.
To prove that point, China has been extensively testing its e-yuan –  the country’s CBDC –  which is based on technology very similar to those that support cryptocurrencies. The implications are massive.
It will allow for international remittances to occur for a fraction of the cost of sending money abroad with today’s technology. Additionally, it will very likely bring the massive unbanked population into our financial system. The benefits are far more extensive than this column could do justice.
Suffice it to say that digital currencies are here to stay, and they will without a shadow of a doubt transform the way the world interacts with money. Blockchain technologies, which will empower this to happen, also have real-world applications across industries to enhance logistics operations and reduce fraud.
It won’t be long until blockchain is an industry unto itself. The pandemic has sped up digitization by years, and the employment opportunities are nearly endless.
While a 2019 Coinbase report noted that 56% of the world’s top fifty universities offered at least one course in crypto or blockchain, it simply isn’t enough. Education, much like the government, is simply not acting quickly enough to keep up with market needs.
Eventually, every program in the country will offer an extensive curriculum on these emerging technologies, but that moment is farther off than the industry requires – a nd it is farther off than students deserve.
Students receive university education in order to prepare themselves for a career. Yet, for many students studying ‘information technology and systems,’ they are missing out on curriculum related to the most important development in their future field since the rise of e-commerce.
Today –  not tomorrow –  is the day that we must collectively demand that higher education responds to the needs of industry and society.
Every university, college and community college in America should be offering students a glimpse into blockchain technology and digital assets –  and every high school should offer electives that enable the student population to learn rudimentary coding.
If we want to compete on an international scale, we must prepare our students to work in tomorrow’s economy.

Richard Gardner serves as the CEO of Modulus , an international financial technology firm. He has been a globally recognized subject matter expert for more than two decades, offering complex insight and analysis on cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, financial technology, surveillance technology and blockchain technologies. Richard’s ideas have been published by Forbes, Reuters, CIO Magazine, NASDAQ, Business Insider, the Detroit Free-Press and dozens of other regional and industry-related publications. He also writes a weekly column on emerging technologies in Africa for News Ghana.
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