Just about any kind of transaction can be carried out over the Internet. Whether you’re an IT professional or you are simply someone who follows the worlds of investing, banking, and cryptocurrency, understanding blockchain basics is absolutely essential.
If you’re interested in learning more about blockchain technology, you’ve got to consider this course, taught by Jonathan Reichental on LinkedIn Learning. Reichental really knows his stuff- as a professional named one of the world’s top1 00 CIOs in 2017, he is able to give an in-depth overview of blockchain technology in a realistic, down-to-earth perspective.
A non-technical course, this class is for people who work in a variety of unrelated fields like business, IT management, or data science. I found this course to be incredibly helpful as it gave me a basic understanding of what blockchain technology is – and how it functions.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know in my Blockchain Basics course review.
What is the Blockchain Basics?
At the most literal level, the word “blockchain” just means a chain of blocks, right?
However, the technology is a bit more complicated than that. When you use the word “blockchain,” it is actually referring to digital information – aka, the “block” – that is being stored in a public database – the “chain.”
Each block on a blockchain is composed of different pieces of information. Most have three parts. The first part is the block’s ability to collect and store information about transactions, including the time, date, and dollar amount of your latest purchase. The second piece is the who – the block stores information about who is participating in the transactions (without your actual name – a purchase would be recorded with a unique digital signature instead).
Finally, each block stores pieces of information that help to distinguish them from other blocks. Every block has a unique code called a hash that enables users to tell it apart from other blocks.
Blockchain, at the most basic level,c consists of multiple blocks strung together. For blocks to be added, a verified transaction must occur, be stored in a block, and given a hash. The goal of blockchain is to enable information to be recorded and shared, yet not edited.
There are multiple users and industries that stand to benefit from blockchain, including banks and financial institutions, cryptocurrency users, healthcare providers, property records offices, and more. Blockchain can even be used for things like smart contracts, supply chains, voting, and more.
Those are the very basics of blockchain – of course, there’s much more to this concept than that alone. This course goes into more detail about what blockchain is and how it can be used by the average user.
What Kinds of Content Does the Course Cover?
I always take the time to watch the introduction for any online course I take, and I’m particularly glad that I did for this one. I found the intro to be incredibly engaging and a valuable part of the overall course.
Jonathan Reichental, the instructor, gives a detailed overview of the history of digital currency and blockchain’s role in its development and continued use. He quickly goes over the outline of the course so that it’s easy to predict what’s coming next.
Trusting the Internet
The next section in this course is titled “trusting the Internet,” which I found to be an apt and telling title. In this section, Reichental goes over the risks and security challenges related to using the Internet and gives an overview of how blockchain can be used to help mitigate some of those threats.
This section then goes on to how we can rethink the traditional database using blockchain. I found the second mini-module in this section to be much more hands-on and helpful. It gave information for beginners about what a traditional relatable database is and how centralized and decentralized database structures work.
What is Blockchain?
This section, “What is the blockchain?” is perhaps the most helpful and informative one in the entire course. In this section, you’ll learn about the core characteristics of the blockchain and what kinds of problems it can solve.
A bit further into this module, you will also learn about the origin of the blockchain and how it can be used to support digital currency (both how it has been used historically as well as how it can be used in the future). You will learn about the new possibilities that blockchain presents, particularly in the use of digital products.
At the end of this section as well as the last, you will be prompted to complete a chapter quiz. You don’t have to complete the quiz in order to progress forward into the course, but I recommend doing so.
Once you have a decent overview of blockchain under your belt, you will then be able to go on to learn more about some examples of blockchain in action today. Reichental goes into detail about a company named Everledger that uses blockchain to store information on millions of diamonds.
The section goes into detail about some of the risks and future pathways for blockchain’s use as well. Reichental talks about how blockchain, an open-source resource, is constantly evolving and being updated. He discusses some examples of how it is doing so, for example, through one company named Ethereum, a software platform that uses blockchain and smart contracts to build complex decentralized software applications.
The final main section of the course is entitled “challenges ahead,” and as you might expect, it deals with the obstacles related to blockchain development and maturation. I could relate to one of the most obvious challenges – it is difficult for people to understand. Therefore, many companies and individuals have a poor idea of blockchain’s potential.
Other challenges are technical and transactional in nature. You have to have some technological savvy in order to understand and use it, and training everyone in its use is simply impractical.
It also poses some risks to existing enterprises and solutions, particularly if it is adopted on a widespread scale.
The conclusion of the course wraps up everything that has already been discussed and also gives you, the student, some next steps that you can take. This section was a bit repetitive, hashing over information that had already been covered earlier in the course, but was nonetheless a valuable section to listen to.
Reichental gives some practical suggestions about what you can do in your future blockchain training. He suggests looking into some of the new organizations that support blockchain development, such as smart contracts and Ethereum. He also suggests buying and using a few dollars of bitcoin and exploring what financial organizations, like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, are currently doing in regards to blockchain.
The LinkedIn Course Platform
I have had a profile on LinkedIn for many years, and yet I wasn’t aware that this website offered online courses until recently. This is something I wish I had discovered a while ago!
LinkedIn Learning merged with Lynda in 2015. Since then, it has been able to provide a large amount of content to learners of all kinds. It is user-friendly and enables you to interact with other learners, to make and view suggestions, and to stay engaged at all times. You can ask the program instructor questions and receive real-time answers.
The only downside to using LinkedIn Learning? There are so many courses for you to choose from! It can be tough to find the right one for you. Instruction is delivered in bite-sized chunks and you’ll be able to keep track of your progress while you are moving through the class.
I will say that, after taking several courses on LinkedIn Learning, I noticed one other flaw in the system – there is not a uniform template that all courses must follow. The plus side to this is that it seems as though course authors are given a lot of flexibility in designing their classes.
However, the downside is that some courses lack features (like supplemental resources and chapter quizzes) that others do not. It would be great if all of these were offered as standard, uniform measures so that you, as the student, knew more about what to expect.
The Course & The Instructor
It is taught by Dr. Jonathan Reichental, an award-winning author, educator, CEO, writer, advisor, speaker, and investor. He is recognized as a global thought leader on a number of trends, including urban innovation, the industrial revolution, and blockchain technology. He works in government and was named one of the top 20 most influential CIOs in the United States.
His teaching style is smooth and offers a clear, concise delivery. He can be a bit wordy at times, but it’s clear that he really knows his stuff – and he knows how to deliver important messages to his students. Reichental has worked as an adjunct professor at various universities, including the University of San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley. He also penned a book on Smart Cities and is the co-host of the podcast Drinking Wine Talking Tech.
Reichental is also the founder and CEO of a company named Human Future, which specializes in business and technology education, investment, and advisory. He has endorsements in several skills, such as cloud computing and project management.
His recommenders have good things to say about him, remarking that Reichental, “is a valuable source of insights and knowledge that stem directly from his authentic curiosity” and that he is “one of the very few who are able to take the most complex of concepts and transform them into a meaningful narrative that can be understood by everyone.”
Major Benefits of Taking This Course
Clear Learning Objectives
When I begin an online course, I like being able to know what to expect. With this course, I can. Reichental details his course and learning objectives before you even get started. By the end of the course, learners are expected to:
- Explain what Captcha does.
- List the core benefits of a traditional database.
- Assess whether Bitcoin requires any intermediaries in a transaction or not.
- Explain why blockchain technology is useful beyond cryptocurrency.
- Identify some ways to reduce the risk of blockchain innovation.
When I took the class, I reviewed the learning objectives ahead of time to make sure it was the right class for me. Then, after completing the course, I went through the learning objective to make sure I had actually met them. I’m not sure if this is something that every student would do, but for me, it was a fun and accurate way to determine whether I had met the learning objectives detailed by the course instructor.
Short & Sweet Course Delivery
At just 57 minutes long – less than an hour! – this course provides the perfect length. It is clear and concise without being too long. There were a few sections where I thought the instructor could have benefitted from going into a bit more detail, but overall, it provided just enough information to pique my interest in blockchain basics.
Certification Available at End of Course
This course is one of the few on LinkedIn that enables you to earn a certification that counts toward continuing education units. After completing the class in its entirety, you can get a certification credit (1.6, in fact) with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. This ties into the recommended NASBA field of study in computer software and applications.
Comes with Bonus Exercise Files and Learning Groups
The Blockchain Basics class by Dr. JOnathan Reichental is incredibly immersive, offering learners numerous resources to help them expand and develop their understanding of blockchain basics.
When you take the class, you’ll have access to a bonus exercise file and to learning groups. The bonus exercise file isn’t quite as in-depth as some of the files I’ve seen used in other courses – it is merely a glossary of terms. I downloaded this and printed it out to have it on hand while I took the course, and it came in quite handy.
The learning groups are pretty cool, too. When you take this class, you automatically become part of a LinkedIn Learning group named the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Membership in the group is optional, but it enables you to connect, learn, collaborate, share, and teach in an open, safe environment.
You can take this course on any kind of device, including a desktop, laptop, or smartphone. I took the course primarily on my desktop as I found the audio had some lagging issues when I tried to open it and view it on my smartphone.
However, this was done through the browser on my iPhone and not via the LinkedIn Learning app. I believe that using the app would have eliminated many of these issues – I haven’t had any issues with other LinkedIn Learning courses in the past.
Notebook and Transcript Features
As with other LinkedIn Learning courses, this one comes with helpful notebook and transcript features. You can follow along via the transcript to get notes on what the instructor is saying – plus, you can type your own notes as you move through the instruction.
I didn’t take quite as many notes while completing this course as I have for other online courses in the past. Much of that was due to the nature of the course – there weren’t that many terms that needed to be memorized and the ones that were included could be found in the bonus exercise file.
This might not be a feature that everybody appreciates while taking the course, but personally, I loved the fact that many of the sections in this class came with chapter quizzes. When you reach the chapter quiz section, you can easily jump ahead if you’d like to skip it.
However, if you’d rather sit through the quiz, you will answer a series of questions (each chapter quiz has a different amount) about the section you just completed. If you get the answer correct, you will be told why and you can move on. If you get it wrong, you will be told that you are wrong and you are not given the correct answer. Instead, you are prompted to visit the section in which the information can be found in the lesson.
I loved being able to go back and revisit the information I had already learned. Being able to view material multiple times is essential for someone who truly wants to master a course and the material it contains.
Access to Q&A
You can view a helpful question and answer section for this course without having to complete it in its entirety. In the Q&A, you can interact with the instructor as well as with students who have taken the class.It was helpful to see that Reichental has responded recently to many of the questions listed here.
I don’t always see this with online courses, even those on LinkedIn Learning, so it was nice to see that Reichental, despite his extensive resume, still finds time to interact with his online students.
Like the course? There are many other related ones you can take if you want to learn more. Some of the most popular suggestions include:
- Open Data: Unleashing Hidden Value
- Smart Cities: Solving Urban Problems Using Technology
- Smarter Cities: Using Data to Drive Urban Innovation
- Blockchain: Beyond the Basics
- IoT Foundations: Standards and Ecosystems
Many of these are also taught by Reichental, something helpful to note if you liked his teaching style and methods of instruction.
Complaints About the Course
Some Sections Are A Bit Longer and Wordier Than Necessary
There was very little I didn’t like about this course, but one thing I noticed is that Reichental seems to be more of an orator than an instructor. What I mean by that is that many of the sections in the class were no longer and more verbose than necessary.
For example, the “risks of the Internet” section had a lot more information about how your information can be compromised online without giving as many tips on how to protect it (or information about blockchain’s role in protecting your privacy). A lot of the information here was undoubtedly interesting, but didn’t seem to be quite as relevant in terms of the overall course content.
This is a complaint I have about the LinkedIn Learning platform in general, and not just this class by Dr. Reichental – it is not free. In order to take the class and unlock its many benefits, you have to sign up for a LinkedIn Premium account. Although this is only $30 or so per month, those costs can add up, particularly if this is the only class you want to take.
Since this course does lead to a certification, it would be great to be able to read reviews from students who have taken the course in the past. However, that is not an option. That is extremely frustrating when you consider how much money you have to pay for a LinkedIn Learning membership. Although you can interact with the instructor and other students via the Q&A feature, you can’t see what others have to say about the class.
Hasn’t Been Updated in 3 Years
This course has not seen any updates since 2017. For me, this wasn’t a huge deal-breaker, since it’s clear that Reichental continues to interact with his students via the question and answer section of the course.
However, for a topic that is as rapidly evolving as blockchain, it would be great to see more frequent updates with additional information.
Who is the Blockchain Basics Course On LinkedIn Learning Best For?
This class is ideal for beginners and non-technical professionals who want to learn a little bit more about how blockchain works. Although some of the language is still a little complicated and technically-oriented, for the most part, it’s pretty easy to follow.
I would recommend signing up if you have an hour or so to spare and are interested in learning about how blockchain might affect you on a professional and personal level – or if you want to join a professional network via the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.