Breaking Down Crypto: The Story Behind Our Blockchain Business Course

Oulu Business School's first MOOC on blockchain in business was published in November 2023. How and why the course was created? The creators, Associate Professor Teck Ming Tan and pedagogical designer Joakim Tervonen, reveal the story behind the course.

Every four years, like clockwork, blockchain and cryptocurrency capture headlines, propelled by the soaring price of Bitcoin following its halving event. Currently, about 900 Bitcoins are released daily, but this number will be cut in half to 450 Bitcoins after April 20th. The 2024 cycle began even before the halving, sparked by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF. This marked a pivotal moment, with industry heavyweights like BlackRock and Fidelity incorporating Bitcoin into their digital asset offerings. It’s clear that the narrative around cryptocurrency is shifting, painting it in a more positive light.

But does this mean we should abandon our previous skepticism, viewing cryptocurrencies as mere scams and bubbles? Or is it time to shift our perspective towards the underlying technology of cryptocurrency, namely blockchain? We believe the latter is crucial. Blockchain technology has evolved significantly since the last cycle. As of now (on 26.3.2024), the total market capitalization of the blockchain and crypto industry has soared to USD 2.7 trillion—surpassing tech giants such as Alphabet (Google), NVIDIA, Apple, Facebook (now Meta), and even the value of silver.

First steps

Since 2022, we’ve been exploring ways to broaden the understanding of blockchain for business to a wider audience. Our goal is to ensure that our course benefits not only students from the University of Oulu but also alumni, students from other Finnish universities, and those from abroad.

From the public’s perspective, creating an online course might seem straightforward. However, from an educational organizational standpoint, we must consider how to allocate our resources and time to this project. It's also crucial to find a balance between our existing workload and the additional commitment of developing a course and teach it. To solve these issues, we decided to do something new in OBS – we develop a fully automatic MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that one can take anywhere, anytime and in an adaptive way.

Dean of Oulu Business School, Janne Järvinen, introduced us to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Blockchain for Business School Curricula. This sparked our initiative in a supportive environment, especially since the Dean is also keenly interested in blockchain technology. Relying on the AACSB materials, we analyzed how other universities have structured their blockchain courses. From this research, we began to understand how to position our course uniquely while adhering to sound pedagogical principles.

At the start of 2023, our Dean for Education, Satu Nätti, convened meetings to discuss our initiatives, roles, and time allocations for the MOOC course. She collaborated with us to secure university-level funding for our MOOC course. Following this, Terence (Teck Ming) began developing the course content, while Jokke (Joakim) focused on the digital learning environment and digital pedagogical design and chiseling out suitable learning pathway that adapts more to the learners needs. This included elements like Block (the helpful tip-dog, motivator and meta-voice of teaching on the course), accessible text-to-speech features for all learners, and learning badges from Open Badge Factory.

The entire process took approximately six months, culminating in our collaboration with the University of Oulu’s professional and helpful MOOC team Viivi Oikarinen and Tiina Vertanen. They gave us advice in curricular twists and turns, and much needed feedback of our pedagogical solutions.

End result and plans for future

With no marketing efforts, our course went live on November 1, 2023. As of April 5, 2024, we have 153 students enrolled, with 33 (21.6%) having completed the course. Additionally, 27 students (17.6%) have applied for study rights at the Open University to register their grades on Peppi. On top of that, over 15 people have taken the opportunity to gain our learning badge and add it to their LinkedIn profiles!

We are both delighted and appreciative that the Oulu Business School has recognized our efforts by awarding us a certificate for innovative initiative. This honor, given on February 9, 2024, acknowledges our outstanding contribution and pioneering work in developing OBS’s first MOOC course.

Oulu Business School's digimentor Joakim Tervonen and Associate Professor Teck Ming Tan posing with their teaching award certificates in front of the stage in Tellus Backstage event venue.

What's next? Our initial goal for the first year was to register 400 students with a completion rate of approximately 12%-17%, which translates to about 50-70 completions. We are already more than halfway to meeting our minimum completion goal. Our ambitious plan is to reach 10,000 attendees by the sixth year.

Furthermore, we are brainstorming the next advanced blockchain MOOC course, intended as a continuation of the current course. The general idea is to enhance technical skills, particularly in blockchain data analysis (both on-chain and off-chain), enabling students to leverage the transparency of blockchain technology for deeper technical insights into various blockchain or metaverse projects.

If you have suggestions for our second blockchain for business course, we would be happy to hear from you.

Free MOOC: A Basic Understanding of Blockchain in Business MOOC (OPEN UNI)



Dr. Teck Ming (Terence) Tan, D.Sc. Docent
Google Scholar
Harvard University Visiting Profile
University Researcher Profile

Pedagogical designer

Joakim Tervonen
Master of Arts

Main picture by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay