Course Description

Students complete distributed ledger labs before developing, implementing, and ‘demo or die’ sharktanking their own new blockchain project. Blockchain concepts such as decentralization, smart contracts, trust and consensus governance are discussed.

Additional Course Description

This course introduces students to key concepts such as trust and consensus, as well as the technologies utilized by alternative blockchains. Management and governance processes for consensus and legal and regulatory issues for distributed ledger technology are also addressed. Students will learn through labs, readings, and class discussion how trust and then consensus has been achieved and may be maintained with autonomy. This may be done more or less well and is critical for enabling widely distributed and disparate parties to participate in public and private blockchain market creation. Distributed ledger technology innovation, trust establishment and maintenance, iterative consensus development, and autonomy in use resulting from the prior conditions being fulfilled and maintained will all be explored.



Professor of Record

Lee McKnight


Information Management, Applied Data Science, and Library and Information Science MS students.

Learning Objectives

After taking this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the structure of a blockchain and how and why it can create trust (with cryptography for information security and immutability) across decentralized, Zero Trust networks, and be able to evaluate when/if it may be better than a simple distributed database for an application;
  • Gain awareness of the challenges that exist in monetizing and regulating new businesses, and new products and services from established enterprises, with blockchain solutions and smart contracts, with or without cryptocurrencies and tokens.
  • Describe and understand the differences between the most prominent blockchain ecosystems, consensus governance mechanisms such as Proof of Work and Proof of Stake, as well as rising alliances, networks, and markets.
  • Understand how to create, analyze, use, manage, and govern blockchain distributed ledger applications.

Course Syllabus

IST 608/400 Spring 2021 Syllabus - Lee McKnight

IST 608 Quarter Term Syllabus

Other iSchool Courses