Zastrin course licenses as NFTs

Experiment to tokenize courses

Mahesh Murthy
Jan 8, 2019 · 4 min read

At Zastrin, we focus on creating the best online courses possible to help developers learn blockchain programming. Our courses are self-paced and hands-on where you learn by building an end to end real-world product.

We are also constantly thinking how blockchain can be leveraged in the education space. One of the common use cases some companies are tackling is certification (issuing certificates on the blockchain). We believe there are many more areas where blockchain can be used effectively. At Zastrin, we wanted to explore the use case related to licensing the courses as Non Fungible Tokens (NFT). The following section explains our experiment, thought process, what we hope to learn from this experiment and our implementation details.

This article assumes that you know what Non Fungible Tokens are. If not, here is a quick primer or we have a complete developer’s guide course that teaches you NFTs in depth and implementing an NFT application.

Problem description

When you purchase a (paper) book, you can hold on to it forever, gift it to someone or resell it in a marketplace like eBay, Amazon etc. You can also borrow books from a library for certain duration. Why can’t ebooks (online courses in our case) be bought and sold similarly in an open market? There are a number of edtech companies where you buy a course and you own it for the lifetime. Majority of the people don’t go back to the course once they have completed it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just resell it or gift it to someone?

It doesn’t make much sense to just copy the offline world to the online world because they are fundamentally different. It doesn’t take much additional resources to create multiple copies of the ebook/course. You should do it only if there are additional things you can do online (course software license) which you could never do offline (books). Few such use cases are:

  1. Compensating the author: Every time the license changes hands, the course author should earn some commission. It is impossible to do this with books.
  2. Resale price: When you buy a second hand book, the price is mostly based on the condition of the book (new, good, acceptable etc). What if someone has done a really good job of highlighting important content, taken notes and want to sell all of it? That can’t be done with books but can definitely be done with online content.

What other benefits can you think of? (Please let me know in the comments).

We wanted to see what would happen if these features are enabled for Zastrin courses. Would people start reselling their tokens, would they gift it, would they trade their Zastrin courses for Cryptokitties :) or would they just hold on to it forever? The next section explains how we used NFTs to accomplish this.

How Zastrin NFTs work?

To enable trading of Zastrin courses, we tokenized the course licenses using NFTs. What that means is, each course license is represented by a Non Fungible Token. If you own one of these tokens, you have the right to access that particular course on Zastrin. You can see all our courses on our website and you can see a few corresponding NFTs minted and listed on OpenSea NFT marketplace

Anyone who owns one of these NFTs can visit the link on a web3 enabled browser and get access to the course. There are a number of Ethereum wallets in the market that support NFTs. You can easily transfer it to another address or use OpenSea to transfer your token. If at some point you transfer your NFT to another user, you will lose access to the course as soon as they redeem the NFT.

Why do you need Blockchain/NFT for this?

If you understand how Zastrin NFTs work, I hope your next question is, why do you need blockchain/NFTs to implement these features? It could have been implemented with in the Zastrin webapp and it would work without any friction.

Here is why we feel it was worth tokenizing the courses:

  1. Once the course license is tokenized, any Ethereum wallet can automatically handle the license. License can be sent and received seamlessly since the token adheres to ERC721 standard. You only need to rely on zastrin website for accessing the course and not for trading.
  2. There are many NFT exchanges and course licenses can be listed on all of them without any additional work (Our NFTs are currently listed on OpenSea and it was a smooth process). This will help with discovery and act as a new distribution channel.
  3. Most of these exchanges allow you to set commission on sale. So the author gets compensated for every trade.
  4. You can bundle multiple NFTs (courses) and innovate in pricing.
  5. We plan to add highlighting and notes feature that will be associated with a license. NFTs will be priced differently based on these properties.

Outside of these benefits, we believe this will be a good way to introduce people to the world of crypto and NFTs.

As mentioned in the beginning, this is an experiment. It might succeed or it might fail, we hope to learn from this experiment. If you can think of ways to improve, please let us know. Also, if you are an author who is interested in tokenizing your content, you can reach out to us at

You can buy some courses for yourself or gift it to others by purchasing tokens at

Happy #buidling!

Learn blockchain programming building real-world projects #buidl

Mahesh Murthy

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