Blockchain is incredibly popular at THUAS

Blockchain technology has the potential to change the world. So it is important that THUAS keeps its finger on the pulse. Lecturer and researcher Jordi Jansen started a knowledge network and teaches a minor on blockchain and FinTech. His lectures are always packed.

“Whether it involves currency (bitcoins), your social profile on Facebook, or your transactions through your online bank account, I believe in a world in which everyone owns their own data. Blockchain technology makes that possible. It ensures that your personal data does not end up with government bodies or commercial or political parties. I also think that the current monetary system with euros is no longer working. It is not a question of whether it will collapse, but rather when. Blockchain technology may offer a solution for this. I have been developing education around this subject based on my personal interest, as education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Crypto idiots

In summer 2017, Jordi taught the first elective on blockchain technology for lecturers and students from the Finance & Control degree programme. “There were so many people interested, that they didn’t all fit in the classroom. Furthermore, I was teaching for 3.5 hours instead of 1.5 hours. It was an elective that students did not gain credits for, and was held in the evening. The classroom was full of crypto newbies and the energy was palpable.”

Started a knowledge network

“I realised very soon that we should scale this up. There was a willingness and curiosity for this among students, lecturers, traders, professionals, the professional field and other interested people from outside. This was when I started a knowledge network on blockchain with several other enthusiasts. It brought together all these parties to carry out research and learn from each other. In no time at all, the network has several hundred people. They were not all Dutch FinTech experts and people familiar with blockchain either. Researchers from universities in Belgium, Spain and the United States also took part. Fantastic!”

Classroom was too small

“At the same time, we decided to organise events in this specific field in collaboration with companies and other partners. This integration of practice within education is so important. After all, you only learn how to ride a bike when you actually get on one. So we just started with knowledge sessions, guest speakers and use cases from the professional field. These events really hit the mark. The classrooms were too small and companies hijacked our students who were still due to graduate. Such is the high demand for knowledge about blockchain technology.”

Successful minor

“Over the last few months we have been running a 15-credit minor in the Finance & Control degree programme in conjunction and with the professional field. We could only accept 25 students, yet there were still 35 people in the classroom each week. These were students who took part on a voluntary basis, or people from outside who wanted to know what we were doing. Our minor students got to work on real-life practical assignments, such as The Harbour Club or the Rotterdam ports and on 30 November they presented their findings to a panel of journalists, politicians and lecturers. Students gave the minor a score of 9.9. Now that’s cool!”

More FinTech

“We are now even working on a 90-credit minor on FinTech and blockchain technology for the Finance & Control degree programme, together with the Law, International Business and IT degree programmes. It will naturally be held in English, and there will be many more practical assignments and use cases. We also have plans for a master’s programme. There really is so much to learn about!”