College offers emerging technology program

Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies department is launching a new certificate program centred on blockchain.

Ever wondered what health care and real estate have in common? Both are among the countless industries that will be impacted by an emerging technology called blockchain – and a new program at Okanagan College will soon help students tap into the know-how to ride this wave of change into new technology careers and frontiers.

Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies department is launching a new certificate program centred on blockchain. It will offer an introduction to how it works, the technology, the networks and platforms it uses, as well as some of the applications that use blockchain technology.

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“Blockchain is like a network of highways,” said Wayne Van Damme, a technology expert and developer of the program, who will also be teaching the first session, which powers up in March.

He said that Bitcoin, the decentralized cryptocurrency, uses blockchain to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions through this network. Currently, bitcoin is one of the only vehicles (applications) that travels on this roadway but others are expected to follow.

“This highway has potential to carry much more traffic and many types of vehicles. Right now, we have the opportunity to decide what kind of vehicles we want to design for the roadway. Blockchain gives us a safe way to transfer information and now we can create the concepts that will influence business and social interactions in the years to come.”

The eight-week certificate program will be offered online, so students organize their own study schedules. To bring it to life, Okanagan College enlisted support from industry experts at BlocksEDU Learning Corporation, a Vancouver-based emerging technology education courseware training company. The certificate will explore the details of blockchain technology and open students up a range of possible career and business applications.

“Equipping students with just the right blend of technology theory and industry applications is our goal – that’s what we’re hearing employers calling for,” said Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College.

The certificate program explains blockchain technology and prepares learners to think about the variety of ways this technology could impact their businesses and their lives. Applications are possible within banking and payments, insurance, charity, voting and other government systems, health care and real estate, to name a few. The opportunity to use this technology to establish trackable supply chain management is also being explored by many industries – something that should be of interest to businesses and consumers alike.

“We know blockchain technology is an emerging area of interest, not only for those in the technology industries, but for anyone who is committed to building a skill set that will stay current with the changing technologies that will drive the new economies,” said Silvestrone. “It’s knowledge that will benefit small business owners too, who are increasingly needing to serve as their own IT department and look after their own security and e-commerce solutions. There are many applications emerging.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the training can drop by an info session on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m., in Room E402 in the Centre for Learning on the Kelowna campus.

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