Boning Up on Blockchain Technology

E-learning courses, publications, and conferences are some IEEE resources that can bring you up to speed

21 August 2018

The decentralized-ledger technology has the potential to replace existing databases, possibly providing more transparency and security. Here are some IEEE resources that deal with the subject.

WEB PORTAL

The portal of the IEEE Blockchain Initiative is a one-stop site with information about all its activities including upcoming events, educational courses, news articles, and standards. The portal lists ways to get involved, such as organizing conferences, speaking at events, creating educational content, participating in standards activities, and engaging with your local community.

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS

There are several online eLearning courses. The new IEEE Introduction to Blockchain Technology program consists of three 60-minute modules: Abstracting the Blockchain, Bitcoin Case Study, and the Costs and Benefits of Decentralization. Other courses address ethical concerns, and how to conduct responsible research. Students are eligible to earn continuing-education units and professional development hours.

Videos are available, including “The Bitcoin Blockchain Explained,” produced by IEEE Spectrum.

The IEEE Standards Association runs a podcast series that features interviews with experts. They discuss the use of the technology in a variety of potential applications including creating a legal framework for smart contracts, limiting the spread of counterfeit drugs, and securing health data.

PUBLICATIONS

Several IEEE publications have produced special issues on the topic. They include the July issue of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, which looked at how the technology could revolutionize areas such as health care, the Internet of Things, and real estate. Articles that appeared in the October issue of IEEE Spectrum explained how financial firms, governments, and the power industry are adopting the technology. The issue includes a handy cheat sheet to help you understand the lingo, and a chart to help you figure out if the technology can solve any of your problems. And the September issue of Computer looked at how the financial world is likely to use the technology.

The “Reinforcing the Links of the Blockchain” white paper from IEEE Future Directions, which established the initiative, explores how IEEE can help with evaluating current design options, developing technical standards, and conducting research in blockchain development.

CONFERENCES

Several conferences are scheduled to be held this year. They include the IEEE Global Blockchain Summit, slated for 17 to 19 September in Gaithersburg, Md. The summit is expected to cover the current technology landscape, applications, use cases, and government policy and regulations. The Blockchain for Agriculture Forum is designed to examine how the technology can be used to protect against seed contamination, disease outbreaks in livestock, and inaccurate temperature tracking. It is scheduled for 28 and 29 November in Honolulu.

COMMUNITIES

Members can join the IEEE blockchain technical community to work on the technology’s development and deployment. Participants receive notices about conferences, special events, education, publications, and standards. They also get the quarterly IEEE Blockchain Newsletter.

There’s a blockchain community on IEEE Collabratec. Discussions have included whether purchasing cryptocurrency is easier or cheaper than mining it, and whether blockchain technology could be a secure way to protect medical records stored in the cloud.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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