Unlearn’s Technology Stack

Unlearn Network’s technology stack is made possible by the generous grant provided by the Ethereum Foundation. The technology consists of 3 major layers:

  • Certificate Management
  • Examination Framework
  • Course Delivery

Why is it needed?

Most existing certificate and exam platforms are not a good match for assessing knowledge areas in Ethereum. Traditional methods don’t take into account that a certain body of knowledge can be acquired in different ways. Also, they can’t handle well a field where the knowledge is in active research and is rapidly changing and parts of it is becoming obsolete.

In order to address these issues, we are building a certification and examination framework that is based on the following fundamentals:

  • built-in protection against obsolete knowledge
  • micro-accreditations & non-linear progression
  • self-propagation

Built-in Protection against Obsolete Knowledge

Certificate Expirations

Ethereum is in active research, and valid technical knowledge on it has to be maintained. Therefore certifications given by the system can expire in multiple ways. It means that all and any certifications will require re-tests to keep them valid.

Certificates can expire in multiple ways:

  • Expiration time – once awarded, the certificate will expire in N months, and a test have to be re-taken to revalidate the certificate.
  • Expiration triggered by an external event. Some examples:
    • A major new version of a widely used client such as geth is out
    • ETH1.x -> 2.x transition
    • New security issues (if certificate is security related)

Topic Self-Check

It has been a constant problem of Ethereum courses (both online and offline) that – due to frequent changes in the EVM and the tooling – the courses (especially the coding examples) fail to work after a short period of time. We propose a standardized system how the examples must be represented in the Topics, which contains automated tests that make sure that the examples in a Topic work and provide the expected result. This will be part of a standard VM that will be used by the Topics to conduct the Courses.

Micro-accreditations & non-linear progression

The system is based on a Topic, which is the smallest accreditation unit (AU), and represents 4-6 learning hours worth of material.

A Topic

  • contains data that represents a particular topic
  • conforms to a particular schema (for example OpenCerts), signed by an ECDSA, conforming to ERC721 standards (for example Indorse)
  • persists in an immutable storage system (Ethereum)
  • contains criteria for being awarded
  • has a list of pre-requisites

A Unit is a set of related topics that could be covered within a week (no more than 30 learning hours).

A Course is a set of Units and Topics. The Topics within a course may be modelled as a directed graph, with the Topics as the nodes and the pre-requisite relationships as the directed edges. Any Course can be considered as a pre-requisite of a Topic.

In this way it is possible to construct larger courses with more complex hieararchies. For example, in a simple course topics -> course is sufficient, and in a more complex course we may need topics -> units -> course

Non-linear progression

A course merely specifies which topics it consists of, and not the order in which they must be learnt. The students are free to take the pre-requisites in any order.

The sequence is only enforced by the list of pre-requisites. Any non-trivial course can be explored from multiple starting points, using multiple paths.

Self-Propagation

In order to help to reach the widest possible audience (1 million developers envisioned by Joe Lubin :) ) we need to enable and incentivise the knowledgeable developers to impart their knowledge on the newcomers.

We propose multiple levels of incentivization, and an accreditation system that enables people to become instructors (and benefit from it).

Incentivization examples:

  • Experienced people will benefit from helping others (think StackOverflow)
  • Experienced people can become instructors for certain topics
  • Incentivisation mechanisms (bounties) for new developers to start taking courses
  • Incentivisation mechanisms to maintain and fix broken course modules

Who Owns The Platform?

The Endorsing Authority owns the right to create, endorse or revoke certificates. Neither Unlearn Network, nor anyone else s the ability to do that.

The students own their own certificates.

The technology –thanks to the grant provided by the EF – will be open sourced and released under a permissible licence. It means that anyone can deploy the contracts and issue their own licenses. It will work similarly to ENS, the Ethereum Name Service. Anyone can deplyon the ENS contracts and then register ethereum.eth on their own registrar.