BW partnering with tech company to offer blockchain certifications

BW Center for Professional Development has partnered with Cleveland based Tech Company, DriveIT, to offer new certificates focused on blockchain technology. The partnership stems from a Cleveland wide initiative to draw in businesses from the ever-expanding tech industry.
The Blockland Solutions Conference, a 2018 event based in Cleveland devoted to bringing blockchain to the city, was the University’s first introduction to the new technology. According to Connie King, director of Professional Development, she first learned of the conference after it had already started, and began attending the events after noticing other schools in the area had received a running start.
“From a professional development standpoint, and as a whole really, BW was a little bit late in getting into the game of blockchain” said King. “The other schools were already heavily involved in the research and credit side of development, but no one was really in that professional development realm, which would be non-credit, and based more towards professionals working out in the field already.”
Blockchain is a list of recorded transactions, each record being a ‘block,’ connected by digital encryption called cryptography. A cryptographic hash, a unique string of letters and numbers, is contained in each block. These unique hashes connect them together to create the ‘chain,’ and in turn creates a public record of information that cannot be altered. The tech first became popular with the rise of cryptocurrencies, digital currencies that emphasize privacy and security through heavy encryption, like Bitcoin.
Eric Ward, CEO of DriveIT, likens its cooperative nature to a game of pickup basketball.
“One team checks the ball to the other team and you say the score. Everybody agrees on the score. You play a round, maybe they score a basket, you check the ball you say the score” said Ward. “Everybody agrees on the score. If there’s a disagreement, what happens? Consensus comes together and takes care of that problem. That’s kind of how the distributed ledger of blockchain works. There’s transactions going through the system, everybody has a copy of the ledger, and everyone kind of agrees on what the state of that ledger is.”
According to Ward, the partnership with Baldwin Wallace gives the certificates DriveIT offers more legitimacy.
“Regardless of the perception of the cost of tuition and things like that employers still want college backed certifications. That’s a differentiator, if you take a class at DriveIT versus taking a class at Baldwin Wallace, the BW one actually has more weight.”
Ward said the previously unclaimed niche of professional development provided an opportunity for the university to enter this new marketplace, and through their partnership with DriveIT they are supplied experts in blockchain technology to instruct the courses. According to Ward, a company like his exists to fill a skill gap.
“Something like blockchain is very vocational,” said Ward. “That’s not something a higher education institution typically specializes in and it’s not something the faculty is typically interested in. So that’s where a bunch of vocational people like us come in.”
King said currently there are two certificates being offered through the partnership, one of which is focused on the blockchain based computing platform and operating system, Ethereum.
“We have two out there now. Data literacy and Ethereum, and we’re building the blockchain strategy for executives based off of what we develop in a panel discussion on March 12,” said King.