Updated: Aug 25
Blockchain Education and the Future of Bitcoin Following on from Part 1 in this series, Yip, Samantha and Eléonore discuss blockchain education and how they are teaching people about blockchain and cryptocurrency and where they see Bitcoin in the future. Bridget Greenwood: All three of you are incredible educators who are in this space. Samantha, how does education in the blockchain and crypto world differ from the traditional learning paths? Samantha Mullet: When you’re first interested in the space, half the time you’re just learning by osmosis and conversations around you. There was no courses at the time, there’s no class you could take at a local university. I think since then we’ve made a lot of headway. There are a lot of online certifications. Now, there are several books you can read and documentaries you can watch. However, the space moves so quickly and I believe there was a quote recently that, ‘it’s like riding a bicycle as you’re inventing it.’ Education in crypto and blockchain, it’s ever evolving. It’s actually a constant educational learning path rather than, “Hey, I’m going to go read this book or take this course and then know everything.” It’s fast moving and you either are in the stream and keeping up with it or you’re falling behind. People learn in all different ways. Some people are visual, some people are audio. I always saw humour as the great equaliser. I really wanted to create a resource that broke through that tech jargon. I saw so many people get intimidated and frightened by crypto in the early days. I wanted to add humour. It’s a little bit easier to absorb, this doesn’t need to be dull academic material. I use memes, I use gifs and other tools to make it a little bit easier to sink in. And then I think doing panels like this, the educational program I did with Afro Valley was huge, being able to incorporate videos and other different resources within that, infographics. I think embracing a long-term learning path and then also making sure you have varied media sources throughout that really helps. And the more that technology comes into our lives, the faster we are changing and the more important it is for us to continuously learn. Eléonore what’s missing in the crypto education market today and how are you filling it? Eléonore Blanc: I wanted more content that was a bit more down to earth and that was focused on beginners because I think there’s so much content out there that’s for traders and very focused on the price. I wanted to bring it back to the fundamentals and the philosophy of what cryptocurrencies are. I think that’s what maybe sets me apart from other classes. I love what Sam just said about humour. I think with memes and gifs and emojis, we can express so much today and I try as much as I can and the telegram group. I started with offering these classes for specific countries. Lebanon was a big focus of mine and then other people reached out and I did one for Vietnam and I did want for Italy and Yip saw me also in that journey. And so me hosting these different events for these different countries weekly, which was not a good plan. Now what I’ve done basically is concentrate all of that material and offer it every last Wednesday of the month for free for anyone. That sort of allowed me to just sort of have a home base for anybody that’s starting and has never heard about crypto. I feel with that class, you have like a little bit of everything. I’m not saying you’ll learn everything, you can’t. It’s just one hour to just open your mind a little bit to the space. But I’ve been loving teaching that class. It’s been wonderful. That’s where I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy and then learning a lot as well from the people that are joining. Because every month it’s a different crowd. It’s different questions, which forces me as well. You learn from your students, right? It’s a very positive circle that I’m having right now. If you join one of us or one of our courses, you will just speed up your process of learning. We might be able to sift a bit the information for you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Not only with new words, new semantics, new terms, but also making sure, why would YOU need crypto? What is important for you as an individual? Because it’s not the same for everyone. Yip: Just wanted to follow up on what Eléonore just said. I love your energy. It’s just amazing. Very contagious. Empowerment is such a powerful gift. And at the same time, I think before we can actually tap into our real power, we need something I call literacy, just the capacity to have a conversation, to give names to certain concepts so that we can actually tap into the power of the wisdom of the crowds, for example, because if I’m not able to express and relate to another person, then basically this crowd intelligence won’t really work out. The way I’ve designed courses is how can we actually, from a bird’s eye perspective, look at an ecosystem and navigate through with a map. Understand the basic vocabulary so whenever I want to learn more about a certain topic, I know where to look and how to dive deeper. I have a brief understanding of where this concept was developed. What were the principles of it? Because I think principles are not separate in itself. The people who wrote the principles, they had a journey that they came from. They had a certain worldview that was shaped by the environment in which they grew up in. It takes a little bit of understanding and contextualisation to be able to really understand the ecosystem. Unit Masters is a six week programme. Each week has a different theme where you look at a map of the ecosystem and understand what is the role of exchanges, what is the role of consensus mechanisms, security, and who are the players? What is actually their incentive to participate in the system? If you understand what might make people participate in the system, you understand how to play the game and how to not even play the game. How to actually change the rules of the game if you don’t like the way they are or because they have certain inefficiencies. We have life mentoring sessions every Tuesday and Thursdays with people who’ve been in the field. What we ask them is just to share their experience about how they got into the field, their passion, so that we can understand what makes them think that this industry is so powerful or so important to our everyday life. Then we have coaching sessions. Every Wednesday there’s a person who will answer your questions and discuss assignments that are done every week. And then there’s peer learning in the sense of, we invite participants to connect and study groups to do certain assignments together and check in on each other so that they can go through a six week journey all together and grow a little community. Samantha, what’s the end game for cryptocurrency? How do you see this growing into mass adoption? Samantha Mullet: We’re definitely far from it. And I think it’s going to be a long journey to get to mass adoption. We’re still very early. Bitcoin is still in its infancy. I know it passed the 1 trillion market cap, but gold is 10 trillion and we definitely have a long way to go. The point in the chat about gas fees is definitely real. We’re still learning, we’re still improving, we’re still making upgrades. I think Ethereum has a lot of promise, but again, we have to see how it grows. We didn’t see the momentum of DeFi pickup until just last year. Even though Bitcoin has been around since 2009, it’s still young compared to currencies in general. In terms of the end game question, what does that journey to mass adoption look like? People will slowly see the benefit of a store of value, especially if their home countries Fiat currency is even more volatile than Bitcoin, or if they see massive inflation and then they all of a sudden have an alternative store of value. I always think about it like, “okay, how’d my grandmother get into Bitcoin or crypto. Would she ever get there?” It would start as a store of value. Then more of a medium of exchange. I think the more companies that include a very easy UI and user experience for people, the easier it will be to actually start transacting in crypto and moving those store funds into our everyday transactions. Then the psychological adoption of what is a token? How can we use a token? We live in a completely global, fast moving society these days. The internet has basically democratised communication and information. And we can see since the beginning of the internet where we are today. We can call a ride share on our phone and be across town in 20 minutes. We can book a plane ride halfway across the world and leave tomorrow. It’s insane how quickly it’s moved and how powerfully it’s affected our lives. With cryptocurrency, it will follow that suit. It’ll take time for it to weave itself into our everyday lives. But I think before we know it, we will be transacting in different cryptocurrencies and swapping them around like it’s no big deal. Just like we’re calling an Uber or booking a flight to Europe or the U.S. Eléonore, where do you see the next five years? Eléonore Blanc: Well, I saw the last three and I can’t even believe how fast we’ve grown. In 2017, it was a bit weird to be that crazy person that would say, “one day the government will fail.” It’s a bit of a dramatic narrative to walk around the street and you’re scaring people. Sadly, with what happened in 2020 and when we see how interconnected our economies are, by seeing how dependent we are from certain supply chains, by seeing how your local economy is crucial to your wellbeing and for you to have access to certain products. In five years, I can only see it being accelerated sadly by the crisis that we’re going through now, which is making us so much more acutely aware of the limits as well of our current economies. And just to be aware that 40% of the dollar supply has been printed last year. The FED has been printing like there’s no tomorrow basically. This is not a free system right? You can’t just print. You can’t just press on a button and expect no consequences or negative externalities to stimulus packages and QE measures. I think post pandemic days, we’re going to see a wonderful era like the roaring twenties. I can see everybody getting out and going crazy. And then we might have to deal with the consequences of the very thing that we’re going through right now. Financially and economically I just hope that people walking around with smartphones realise the power that they have, that they can be connected now to this new internet magic money, but it’s also more than money right. But I think in five years, it’s the literacy and there’s gonna be more people using it. Like Sam mentioned, better infrastructure so better UI UX, just more avenues for people to easily go from Fiat to crypto, more merchants adopting. I’m pretty bullish, I’m pretty positive. I think we’re just in the beginnings and we see these hypes of tech. We go through all these moments and phases and fashion moments in crypto let’s say, but we’re just testing. This is an ongoing social experiment with some commentators and educators. We are here. But we need so much more talent. It needs to be more than the developers out there. We need all the business developers, the content creators. Oh, and something I really want to see as well is like you mentioned Uber before but it’s just so easy that you can just call your Uber. I can’t wait for it to not be an Uber anymore. And for me to tip my driver directly. To not have these intermediaries that are taking so much out of their pocket. I mean, it’s a great product. I’m a user today, but I would love to just be able to tip my driver directly. That’s the peer to peer economy that I’m seeing coming up. Why not with crypto? Let’s do it. Bitcoin was the first mover, but I also loved my Nokia, my 3210, it was a great phone, but I’m not using that today. It was a great phone and I loved it. For crypto we can improve it and it’s an open source world. So people, if they see a good product and a good idea and a good piece, a good piece of code, they take it, they make something better. We’re really still in that phase where forking and being able to test different models. But it’s the beauty of this space, the diversity that there is and that it’s still moving and we’re still not done with testing, basically.