What new and improved content should be in the Polkadot Blockchain Academy?

The main page for the PBA has an overview of the topics covered. For alumni that have experienced it, what do you suggest is missing or could be improved in the content?

Based on your experience, especially for those who are working in the ecosystem post-PBA, help us identify things you wish we covered but we did not, or perhaps did not dive deep enough into.

We are a continuously evolving program and very open to ideas on what we should be considering from everyone (not just alumni!) as we move forward with more cohorts!


I think something that could be really useful is a more story-driven approach to teaching XCM, where it is closer to building up what XCM is now from previous prototypes, and problems and solutions. XCM as it is now has a lot of complexity, and it was hard to figure out from the lectures why that complexity exists. Also, as XCM is a rapidly evolving protocol, it seems especially important to understand the principles, as the specific API and things may change.

The existing material seemed closer to a walkthrough of the current API and configuration, without enough explanation for why it exists, and what types of things would no longer be possible if something didn’t exist. For instance, The error handling and appendix registers are just introduced as part of the state machine and briefly described. I think it would be useful to walk through an example of a usecase that cannot be accomplished without the error handling register, and likewise for the appendix register.

A good example of something somewhat similar is in Shawn’s benchmarking section where he went over things they tried or changed, and what they learned from it (this is in the ‘more FRAME benchmarking’ section from the PBA BA slides).


I think the content is spot on, given the time constraints I don’t think there is room for much more to add, and I wouldn’t remove anything.
If we really wanted to add something new within the same timeframe though, I think some of the more “general” content like Cryptography or Blockchain could be moved to before the academy as a pre-requisite, and have an exam like the Rust one.

In regards to what @NateArmstrong says about XCM, this module sounded a bit abstract at the beginning, as its fundamentals weren’t 100% clear to me. I agree that more context at the beginning of the module on what problems it solves and what was the creation process behind XCM could help.

I would have also loved to see more content on Smart Contracts. I totally get it that this module was kind of a chill one after the intense first 4 weeks, and also that grading it is difficult as the final grade needs to be ready right after the module is finished. But I think a little less playing, a bit more content and a small grading (maybe even automated in class so teachers don’t need to spend time after the lesson) would have been even better to what we had.

Having said that, I believe that if you ask every student they would all have different opinions on possibilities for improvement. And for what I talked to other students, most of then would agree that the content taught was the right one.


I would also add debugging / profiling the runtime. As it is a very critical component of the blockchain, performing those tasks give usually a good understand on what it looks like under the hood, provides the ability to debug/fix issues faster and perform meaningful optimizations.