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The Blockchain Game: A great new tool for your classroom


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Blockchain technology can be a game-changer for accounting, supply chain, banking, contract law, and many other fields. But it will only be useful if lots and lots of non-technical managers and leaders trust and adopt it. And right now, just understanding what blockchain is, can be difficult to understand even for the brightest in these fields. Enter The Blockchain Game, a hands-on exercise that explains blockchain’s core principals, and serves as a launching pad for discussion of blockchain’s real-world applications.

In The Blockchain Game students act as nodes and miners on a blockchain network for storing student grades at a university. Participants record the grade and course information, and then “build the block” by calculating a unique identifier (a hash) to secure the grade ledger, and miners get rewarded for their work. As the game is played, the audience learns about hashes, private keys, and what uses are appropriate for a blockchain ledger.

What is blockchain? Download the free eBook Blockchain for Dummies

Basics of the Game

  • A hands-on simulation centering around a blockchain for academic scores, including a discussion at the end of the simulation regarding if storing grades would be a good application for blockchain.
  • No computers. Participants are the computors and calculate blocks.
  • The game seeks to teach core concepts about a distributed ledger but can be modified to whichever use case the educator wishes to use — smart contracts, supply chain, applications and others.
  • Additional elements can be added if instructors want to facilitate the game on a computer.

Blockchain concepts taught by the game

  • Distributed ledger
    • No central authority to hold ledger or be attacked
    • All people (nodes) have complete ledger
  • Transparent but anonymous ledger
    • Ledger can be public while concealing identity
  • Append-only ledger
    • Each entry (block) is linked to the previous entry via some math (hash)
    • Some nodes (miners) are paid for performing calculations (proof of work)
  • Immutable ledger
    • Attacks to ledger are impractical due to the need for a majority of nodes (51% attack) to agree to a change and the computational power required

How to get yours

Materials for The Blockchain Game are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike International License, making it free for anyone to use and alter for their own purposes.

See the full description and download of all the materials and reach out to me @JScottMO on Twitter to continue the conversation.

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders, academic experts and partners, to share their opinions and insights on current trends in blockchain to the Blockchain Pulse blog. While the opinions in these blog posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM, this blog strives to welcome all points of view to the conversation.

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