More Illinois universities adding digital currency classes

CHICAGO (AP) — Digital currency is becoming a fundamental part of some finance courses at Illinois universities.

The price of bitcoin increasing at more than $19,000 late last year led many people on quests for fortune and better understanding of the potential gold strike, the Chicago Tribune reported. Public interest of bitcoin has lingered even as its price has come down, but many experts remain apprehensive about bitcoin’s long-term prospects.

Now some Illinois professors are altering lesson plans that before just grazed the subject of digital currency, while other schools are offering entire courses on bitcoin and blockchain, the technology underlying digital currencies. Blockchain allows people to keep track of the transactions, which are added in chronological order. The software is mostly used now to verify transactions.

Students are fascinated by the opportunity blockchain presents for involvement, said Andrew Miller, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The University of Illinois at Chicago doesn’t offer any full-fledged classes on digital currency yet, but professor Gib Bassett, head of the finance department, is planning a panel discussion on bitcoin in his Exchanges MBA course this month.

According to Bassett, it’ll be the first time the course will delve into bitcoin. He said students have helped sparked the change with finance courses.

“They want to hear about bitcoin,” Bassett said.

DePaul University assistant professor Lamont Black said digital currency has become a core concept in courses that cover money, banking and capital markets.

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