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Bittopia University Annual Report: Year 3 (2022) Courses, Swarm Grant, Swiss University

Summary (TL;DR)

The focus of 2022 was on funding, partnerships, and marketing. This report outlines our progress over the last 12 months, which includes:
  • Bittopia University launched 2 courses with great success and positive feedback.
  • Students were rewarded for their contributions. We handed out scholarships and discounts for attending our courses.
  • Bittopia University won a grant from the Swarm Association’s Council to develop our decentralized system architecture, integrating Swarm's protocol to be used for our storage layer.
  • Bittopia University partnered with several powerful organizations to increase our reach, utilize machine learning and VR technologies, provide students with over 1,800 decentralized locations around the world, and empower students with the support of entrepreneurs, business mentors and coaches.
  • Bittopia University partnered and collaborated with FHNW University in Switzerland to develop a course on DAOs.
  • Students of the FHNW University School of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland were given access to the first-ever Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) course thanks to the collaboration with Bittopia University.
  • Around $50 USD in BTC was handed out to students who contributed to the learning process.
  • Bittopia University was presented in Zurich and Prague during two powerful events: SheLeadsTech and Hackers Congress 2022.

Background

To read our previous annual report please check the links below:
2022 marked our first year towards building momentum and expanding our network, each, and growth.
Our main focus was on marketing, funding, and partnerships. We entered the year with the beginning of the bear market, which made raising funds more challenging for all projects.
Despite the challenges, we successfully won a grant with a well-known project called Swarm, partnered with a University out of Switzerland to co-create a course on DAOs, and successfully launched two courses where students were rewarded in accordance with our incentive model.
In this document, we will explore these opportunities and highlight our future goals.

1.0 Courses

Bittopia University launched 2 courses at the beginning of 2022. These included:
To our surprise, the Re-Claim Your Digital Privacy course was much more popular than than the crypto course, perhaps due to the current events around the world and the loss of privacy as a result.
Furthermore, the Re-Claim Your Digital Privacy course consisted mostly of mothers who were concerned about the future of their children, wanting to know more about how they can protect their family from the constant introduction of new techs by Big Tech, many of which infringe upon peoples sense of privacy and freedom.
As one student mentioned in her feedback form:
"This course has literally changed my life. I had no idea that I could have a private and secure identity online. I am moving forward confident that I can build on my learning and teach my children to be and stay digitally free…" - Bittopia Student from New Zealand
The summary of these courses can be found in the news section on Bittopia University's website, titled: The Innovative Curriculum and Educational Methods of the World’s First Decentralized University

1.1 Accessed by Students Across The Planet

Currently, we have students enrolled from various countries such as Australia, Malaysia, USA, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore, and we expect to continue reaching people all over the world.

1.2 Incentivizing Education: BITX

In our system architecture, the token allows for the exchange of goods and services, and this is how Bittopia University rewards its students. Thus, the token facilitates access to information, payment for courses, and decentralized libraries, among others.
Students who support their peers through the learning process, successfully complete the courses or contribute knowledge will receive Bittopia’s native token, BITX, as a reward.
For example, through our masterclass, the prelude to our courses, we rewarded the people who were attentive, helping out their peers in the chat room, and those that demonstrated a keen ability for learning.
They were blown away to be able to use that reward to get a discount towards their enrollment.
As a part of the Bittopia framework, we incentivize the student process, reward contributors, and offer scholarships.
It is my pleasure Amanda based on your contribution and willingness to guide others during the class to offer you a scholarship for our next class or any future classes for the amount of $200 USD. 🎉💫 We will email you the details.
Thank you for your participation and contribution.
@MarciLaBelle @Sussannn and @cyd_mim based on your contribution and answering questions, which is tied to Bittopia's Proof of contribution, we are able to offer you a 20% discount for the course that will be starting in Jan 2022. We will email you the code to be used, should you wish to participate.
This token allows them to access more benefits for their professional training. The better the students perform, the higher their digital reward. BITX is also the means of reward for those who want to contribute their knowledge, ideas, time, and resources.

2.0 Swarm Grant

Congratulations for your successful participation in the grants program of the Swarm Association. On behalf of the Swarm Association's Council, it is our pleasure to inform you that your application for a grant has been approved.
We submitted a proposal to Swarm to participate in their grant, in the later stages of 2021. In July 2022 we heard back and were told that we were accepted and in the final stage of the grant program. After some discussion and a video call, we were approved and won a grant to develop a very important aspect of our system, our storage, on Swarm's network.

2.1 Fair Data Society

We had originally considered Storj, though their system architecture has gone through a lot of changes through the years, making it less appealing for our use. On the other hand, we do prefer and align with the principles behind Swarm:
  1. 1.
    Ownership: All the data related to an individual are part of their digital self.
  2. 2.
    Zero-data: Privacy and non-collection of personal data should be default settings.
  3. 3.
    Control: The rights to data created about or by an individual are only their.
  4. 4.
    Consent: Individual’s data can only be accessed on the basis of consent.
  5. 5.
    Value: Data is a product of an individual’s labour and has economic value.
  6. 6.
    Responsibility: Personal data should be accessed on a need-to-know basis, annonymized before shared or monetised.
  7. 7.
    Influence: Organisations allow the freedom of digital associations within the organisation's ecosystem and recognise associations outside.
  8. 8.
    Accountability: Organizations that access and process personal data provide clear, understandable, and explainable information.
  9. 9.
    Ethics: Organisations design their IT systems based on ethical handling of all personal data; ethics cannot be an afterthought.
  10. 10.
    Interoperability: Open source should be the ideal in as many cases as possible when new software is released.

2.2 Proposal

The proposal we had submitted to Swarm listed our desire to integrate their system for the purpose of storing student profiles, course metadata, as well as the course content itself (audio and videos).
The following was our proposal:
Bittopia is an online and in person educational platform. With an initial focus on educating around practical cryptography usage, Bittopia now supports courses for all subjects. Bittopia is designed to become increasingly decentralized and permissionless, to provide access to topics that may be subject to censorship in some regions or platforms. Beyond content hosting, course communication, and assignment grading, Bittopia will offer crypto credentials for those completing courses.
The default license for courses is Creative Commons but it is up to each educator to determine their own.

2.2.1 Swarm Course

A series of modules for Swarm, explaining its use case as well as how to get started developing with it.
Estimated time: 4 weeks following grant approval

2.2.2 Course Metadata

Course descriptions and metadata (dates, instructors, etc) are stored using Swarm.
Estimated time: 2 weeks following grant approval

2.2.3 Course Content

Course curriculum (assignments, and text lessons) are hosted on Swarm.
Estimated time: 4 weeks following Milestone 1

2.2.4 Student Profiles

Student profiles are hosted on Swarm.
Estimated time: 4 weeks following Milestone 2

2.2.5 Video Hosting

Bittopia's educators will be able to choose to upload their videos to Swarm via Eterna; providing a censorship-resistant alternative to YouTube.

3.0 University Collaboration: FHNW Switzerland

Students of the FHNW University School of Applied Sciences and Arts were given access to the first-ever Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) course thanks to the collaboration with Bittopia University. The event marks a milestone for the education system, where traditional education merges with decentralized education in the name of knowledge.
Bittopia, the world's first decentralized university, recently partnered with The School of Applied Sciences and Arts at FHNW University of Switzerland to offer a hybrid course on the key roles and operations in Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) in today's world. This fusion marked the first time in history that decentralized and traditional education have worked together in such a hybrid model.
"It's exciting to see a new educational movement taking shape, where traditional institutions merge with decentralized institutions to bring a unique and entirely useful set of knowledge to future professionals. Co-developing this course with a reputable university like FHNW Switzerland has been a unique opportunity to showcase the potential of decentralized technologies," says Rafiee.

3.1 She Leads Tech:

On the 8th of December, 2022, Amin Rafiee was invited to share his knowledge on DAOs in Zurich.
via LinkedIn​
Our Speaker, Amin Rafiee, is the founder of the world’s first decentralized university Bittopia University: Decentralized Autonomous University. He will share his experience with us by elaborating on decentralized decision-making and the potential of blockchain and DAO.
The event was a great success with participants attending IRL and via video conference.
Via LinkedIn​

3.1.1 Feedback

And very happy for the participation and feedback received for the hybrid event in early December on DAO and blockchain with Amin Rafiee in collaboration with prof. Bettina Schneider. - SheLeadsTech Switzerland via LinkedIn​

3.2 Future Collaborations

The successful collaboration with FHNW marks our first step towards collaborating with other Universities that are open to enhancing their outdated curriculum and opening their doors to a new form of knowledge beyond their scope.

4.0 Hackers Congress 2022 | Paralelní Polis

Bittopia University's founder and CEO, Amin Rafiee, was invited to speak at the Hackers Congress in Prague. This was his 8th year as a speaker.
"Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis (HCPP) is the flagship event of Paralelní Polis, which since 2014 has been regularly attended by over 500 fans and IT experts from all over the world."
Amin Rafiee hosted a workshop at HCPP22, in which more than 50 people attended. Amin shared the curriculum to Bittopia's Digital Privacy Course and explained that ideas need to be translated into a format that people can easily understand and relate to. As most often people within the tech space have a hard time explaining things to people who non-tech minded.
Amin also showed the feedback from the students that participated in the course and the impact these courses have had.

5.0 Partnerships

Bittopia University partnered with several powerful organizations to increase our reach and utilize existing services to support future students.

5.1 Finfluencers Replace Outdated Ivy League MBAs In Crypto Industry

Can universities keep up with crypto? A new partnership announced between SyncDAO and Bittopia seeks to find out and disrupt traditional finance education at its core.
“We see this industry moving so fast, in any given six week period the entire landscape can fundamentally change. Universities simply are not going to be able to pivot their curriculums quickly enough”, says Rossco Paddison, SyncDAO Co-founder
The premise not only proposes a new way to delegate responsibilities of both knowledgeflow and cashflow, but also sets the audacious precedent of replacing the ‘graduate with debt’ student stereotype, with ‘graduate with a residual income’.
The mechanics of this learning model not only orientate the students to the day-to-day realities of crypto and the DeFi sector, but also acquaint them with the intricacies of operating a decentralised project through course delivery method. The student fees are converted into BITT tokens and allocated to the course treasury. These tokens are then disbursed to the mentors, oracles and top ranked students to incentivise learning and maintain the operational framework of the programme.
“Education should be haptic to the reality around it, this can only be done by having real world lecturers from the frontlines of this lightening fast DeFi sector”, says Amin Rafiee, Bittopia Founder
Full Article: https://medium.com/syncdao/finfluencers-replace-outdated-ivy-league-mbas-in-crypto-industry-ae03eaf733a5

5.2 Partnership with Seats2meet will give Bittopia students access to more than 1,800 innovative workspaces worldwide

Bittopia University students will have access to innovative coworking spaces in more than 200 locations worldwide. They can use these spaces to exchange knowledge with professionals and entrepreneurs from various sectors and nationalities.
In line with its innovative proposal for Decentralized Education, Bittopia University seals an alliance with Seats2meet, the pioneer coworking company in today’s planetary market. Through this alliance, Bittopia students are able to access the benefits offered by the spaces, both physical and digital, of the most complete platform designed for autonomous persons.
The alliance with Seats2meet allows our students access to more than 1,800 decentralized workspaces over the world. They will also have the opportunity to exchange knowledge with other professionals and expand their network of contacts.
In the future, specific locations will be equipped with VR Headsets provided by Bittopia, so that students can access VR classrooms for an immersive learning experience. - Amin Rafiee, Founder & CEO, Bittopia University
Full Article: https://bittopia.org/news/bittopia-partnership-seats2meet

5.3 Immersive Learning: how Bittopia will transform education with virtual reality

The possibility of studying and working remotely changed our perspective about the facilities technology offers us to develop our capacities.
Now it is time to expand our horizons towards the impact and promise virtual reality holds as an immersive learning tool in training and education.
Immersive education, through virtual reality (VR), is transforming the way professionals learn and train. Bittopia University in partnership with Parable, a cutting edge innovator in the development of immersive VR solutions for education, is shaping this new wave of learning, which will be launched on the world market in 2022.
Amin Rafiee, founder and CEO of Bittopia, points out that decentralized education with an immersive learning method will offer an unprecedented experience and will be available to everyone.
Immersive learning, unlike any other technology medium, empowers students to put their course knowledge to the test by interacting with content-rich, dynamic VR environments that simulate real-world scenarios and challenges.
Full Article: https://bittopia.org/news/bittopia-university-immersive-learning

5.4 Supporting the transfer of knowledge for future entrepreneurs

Through this model, and the recent partnership with business coaches and mentors, Bittopia will bring a wealth of knowledge to students and guide them through their path to becoming masters of their own lane, not following trends, but rather setting trends.
This will give them sovereignty over large portions of the business by giving them ownership of their data and censor-free platforms for them to build movements, create content and share their message. The result will be they will have an unstoppable and untouchable business that will thrive in these quickly changing times.
Supporting the transfer of knowledge for future entrepreneurs in building hybrid frameworks, projects, and businesses using alternative censorship-free platforms and technologies. This is how Bittopia aims to become the first decentralized cradle for researchers, mentors, disruptors, and entrepreneurs in the world.
Full Article: https://bittopia.org/news/bittopia-university-decentralized-autonomous-university

6.0 Challenges & Opportunities

The downturn in the crypto market and global recession as made it challenging to raise capital. Though despite that we have pushed forward to continue our mission is decentralizing education and knowledge.
No matter where we go, we see a great deal of interest towards our model and incentive protocol. The majority of people immediately grasp the benefits and necessities.
On the other hand, some people have a hard time seeing Bittopia beyond what Udemy and Coursera are. Often people want to associate a new thing with something they already know. Though Bittopia is new in its design and as such, old ways of thinking cant render the Bittopia vision.
The development of AI means that now we can start implementing an important part of our system architecture that we had predetermined, the course builder. Once this is implemented, people can easily interact with an ML/AI system that can assist them with building their course.
Moving forward, for the year 2023, we aim to connect with more Universities and organizations, offer more courses, expand the number of students we have enrolled, and apply for more grants to keep on building our decentralized architecture.