COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course covers how blockchain technology, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin work. History, technology, communication, economics, security and laws related to the crypto space are discussed along with what might the future hold. This course is suitable for college students of all majors; no advanced math skills or coding experience is necessary.

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

Students will:

COURSE MATERIALS:

Textbook: Cryptocurrencies: A Primer on Digital Money by Mark Grabowski (Routledge, 2019) is available via Routledge.com. Supplemental readings may also be given out in class.

CoinMarketGame.com: Students will practice trading cryptocurrency using this free online mock cryptocurrency exchange.

ASSESSMENT:

 

 Assignment:

 Value:

 Grading Scale:

 1. Exams

  50%

  A = 94-100               C = 70-73

 2. Writing assignment

  20%

  A- = 90-93          C- = 67-69

 3. Research presentation

  20%

  B+ = 86-89         D+ = 64-66

 4. Participation

  10%

  B =  82-85           D = 61-63

    → mock trading

 

  B- = 78-81           D- = 57-60

    → discussions

 

  C+ = 74-77          F = 56 and below

                                              

EXPLANATION OF GRADES:

Exams: Two exams will be given during the semester -- one at the midterm and one during the final exam period -- that test your knowledge of the material we cover. You may find the exams to be very difficult if you do not attend class, study and complete readings. Missing an exam will result in an automatic grade of zero.

Writing Assignment: Write an op-ed that is at least 500 words long and that addresses a current, newsworthy topic or issue pertaining to cryptocurrency or blockchain. For example, you could address the need for more regulation, the importance of women getting involved in cryptocurrency, the potential benefits of blockchain technology on the world or a particular industry, etc. Your op-ed should make a point. You can take a positive or negative stance, but you should clearly state your position/viewpoint. Support your opinion with facts: examples, statistics, expert quotes, studies, etc. Avoid using jargon and explain complicated terms. Use frequent paragraph breaks -- have a line break every few sentences -- as it makes it more reader friendly. Finally, be sure to run a spellcheck and proofread your writing. You will email your op-ed to a newspaper or a cryptocurrency news site and CC the professor on the email.

Research Presentation: In this assignment, you will “shill a coin.” You will recommend a good cryptocurrency to invest in. You will conduct what’s known as a “fundamental analysis” by researching a coin you choose and then explaining why it’s a good buy -- what’s known as “shilling” in the crypto world. This assignment will require several hours of research and good presentation skills. You will present your pitch in class and answer students’ questions.

Participation: Participation forms a significant part of your final grade. Throughout the course, we will have discussions and activities such as mock cryptocurrency trading. In order to get a good participation grade, you must participate in activities and provide thoughtful comments during classroom discussions. Additionally, class attendance is mandatory and part of your participation grade. At the end of the course, I will assign an overall grade to your participation over the course of the semester.

READINGS:

Students are expected to read all assigned material by the dates listed in the syllabus and be prepared to participate in discussions of key topics from the readings. The success of this course depends on students carefully reading material before participating in discussions and taking exams.

WRITING:

Good communication is characterized by effective writing. Professional writing standards are expected on all assignments. This applies to your writing assignments and any emails you send to me. So, run a spell check, follow standard grammar rules, read your work aloud and consider visiting the school’s Writing Center before submitting assignments.

ACADEMIC HONESTY:

Students are expected to abide by the school’s academic honesty policies. This means avoiding any academic dishonesty, which is the giving, taking, or presentation of information or material by a student with the intent of unethically or fraudulently aiding oneself, or by another, on any work that is to be considered in the determination of a grade or the completion of academic requirements. Depending on the offense, a student may receive an F for the assignment/quiz or, in very serious cases, an F for the semester. A student shall be in violation of the prohibition on academic dishonesty if he or she:

(Tentative) Class Schedule

 

Date

Topics Covered

Assignments

Week 1

Class introduction. Bitcoin documentary.

Introduce yourself. Buy textbook.

Week 2

Getting Started: Primer on Bitcoin, FAQs, Why Bitcoin? Philosophy driving cryptocurrency, pros & cons.

Read textbook chapters 1 & 2.

Week 3

Fundamentals: What’s blockchain, how does it relate to cryptocurrency, other uses and limitations.

Read Ch. 3.

Week 4

History of Cryptocurrency: notable pioneers, developments and what the future may hold.

Read Ch. 4.

Week 5

Midterm exam.

Study for exam.

Week 6

Writing and research assignments explained.

Choose op-ed topic and coin to shill.

Week 7

Investing: cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, altcoins & tokens, exchanges, buying/selling/trading strategies, ICOs, investing risks & more.

Read Ch. 5.

Week 8

Investing cont’d

Writing assignment due.

Week 9

Legal Issues, taxes and cybersecurity tips.

Read Ch. 6. Mock Trading: Create portfolio on CoinMarketGame.com & discuss strategy.

Week 10

Other Topics: e-Commerce, forks, psychological risks, social issues, cryptocurrency careers, terms to know, staying informed.

Read Chs. 7 & 8. Mock Trading: update portfolio status, make changes to holdings if desired.

Week 11

Class discussion: Each student will be called on to discuss their mock trading experience; they will evaluate portfolio decisions, discuss results and lessons learned.

Discuss final portfolio results and reflect on lessons learned.

Week 12

“Shill a coin” presentations by students.

Research assignment due.

Week 13

Guest speaker: expert working in field

Week 14

Final Exam.

Study for exam.

Disclaimer 

Nothing published or discussed in this course is to be construed as financial, taxation, investment, legal or other advice. Nothing in this course should be relied upon for any investment activities, tax planning or legal decisions. Investing in Bitcoin or other alternatives is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment.