The High School Transcript, Inverted
Transform American Education, in Three Steps.
Web1 brought us digital content publishing with websites and hyperlinks (download). Web2 brought us digital content sharing with social media (download+upload). Web3 brings us digital content ownership with blockchain (download+upload+property). HS.CREDIT, a Web3 app, brings us student ownership of learning in a three step process: STAKE, PITCH, MINT.
Inverted Credits and Assessment
HS.CREDIT uses an inverted credit and assessment model to incentivize critical thinking in our high schools as well as to prepare students for a digital society. The word “inverted” here is used in the same sense that the internet inverted publishing, allowing any user to distribute content globally without first being approved by a major publisher. Or the way bitcoin has inverted banking, allowing users to become their own banks.
Inversion turns the top-down, corporate chain of command on its head, putting a “crowd” of end-users in charge. Instead of trusting a central authority to design and produce products, inverted platforms allow anyone to contribute. Using search and sort algorithms, the platform is able to match these user-generated assets with interested consumers.
The canonical examples of inversion are Uber and AirBNB. Crowdsourcing works so well because Uber neither owns or maintains any cars and AirBNB no property while industrial taxi and hotel industries maintain such overhead. Similarly, bitcoin needs no bank with armed guards, safes, or armored cars to secure and transfer wealth globally. HS.CREDIT, as an inverted academic platform, is built to be the largest school district in America — measured by the number of high school transcripts represented — without operating any schools.
[Those wanting to understand “inversion” in greater detail can reference the first half of the audio/book, Education in the Digital Age: How We Get There.]
The industrial-era transcript requires that a student attend the right kindergarten to get into the right middle school to get into the right high school to have access to a transcript of learning that is recognized for excellence by employers and universities. By contrast, an inverted transcript offers access to gold standard credits by any student, regardless of where, or even whether, they go to school. Students at elite high schools, who already have access to a gold standard transcript, may not be incentivized to stake content on hs.credit. A student who decides to take school seriously for the first time at age 16, and is looking for a level playing field, is more likely to earn our gold standard academic credits.
The state-controlled, top-down credit model in effect in public schools today also focuses on adult interests over student learning. For example, politicians lower the bar for graduation ever so slightly each year so that graduation rates tick upwards, in service of their next election bid. By contrast, hs.credit pays educators $180/hr to keep a laser focus on the quality of student work products.
Finally, traditional credits and the related standards fail to evolve with the times to ensure a relevant education for our youth. Traditional standards starting from the Committee of Ten (1892) to the Common Core Learning Standards (2009) were written behind closed doors by a handful of powerful white men, issued once, and designed to remain unchanged for decades. That command-and-control approach worked well when there was not much change in society, but no longer.
With the emergence of hs.credit, there are no more government data embargoes, releasing data two years after it is relevant. No more torturing data to spin a political narrative. HS.CREDIT is gold standard, real time educational data. This article details exactly how credit accumulation on the hs.credit platform works.
Gold Standard Credits
Student-voice, critical thinking, and creativity are eliminated when learning is standardized. Gold standard academic data, on the other hand, highlights which students can plan authentic work, demands students develop work ethic, and incentivizes them to focus attention on repeated practice of academic skills.
In other words, standardized tests evaluate who is the best consumer of content, checking that we can select from multiple choice or short answer prompts the way artificial intelligence does after it “machine learns” a dataset. By contrast, the data on hs.credit is designed in line with how the human brain learns best: cycles of practice, with feedback, resulting in real-world output to an authentic audience.
Web3 credits on the hs.credit app are earned in three steps:
(1) STAKE content;
(2) PITCH a media project; and
(3) MINT an NFT.
This three-stage process is an evolution of layered curriculum, a project-based learning model used in secondary schools. To over-simply a bit, students learn CONTENT (layer 1), then they APPLY that content (layer 2) by asking questions or having discussions, so that they can finally EXTEND their learning (layer 3) with a hands-on/real-world project of their design.
Project-based learning is nothing new. It is more ancient than the standardized schooling model in use today and originally created to prepare factory workers to serve as robots or clerks.
Today, the opportunity for deep learning is once again in demand both economically and socially as we transition away from factory and cubicle work to allow artificial intelligence and robotics to do their jobs. In a digitally connected world, lack of critical thinking leads to authoritarian rule and economic collapse. Without deep learning reintroduced to our K-12 education, information viruses will continue to spread at light speed globally, screens will manipulate human attention for the profits of the few who control them, and political actors will attract votes even if their policies are at odds with democracy itself. Both democracy and economic prosperity depend on end-users learning to discern signal from noise, to understand the immense value of where they spend their attention, and to explore the multi-verse of parallel truths that is our shared human reality.
“Gold” as in “BTC”
Some may think that “gold standard high school credits” implies “Ivy League,” or “AP,” or “IB,” or “ACT” or any of the leading brands of the traditional academic ecosystem. At hs.credit, we refer to project-based credits as “gold standard” in contrast to a “fiat standard,” the way the bitcoin (BTC) community uses these terms.
The similarities between fiat money and fiat credits of learning are not insignificant — current transcripts represent centralized credits, issued by a government authority. The issue of trust solved by bitcoin is like our breakdown of trust in a government authority’s certification of meaningful learning on a state-controlled transcript. Just as BTC is a simple ledger of accounts, so too, a high school transcript is nothing more than a ledger of accounts.
To compensate for the reality of “soft” fiat credits, society introduced standardized tests like the SAT/ACT or AP: a single exam meant to represent twelve years of student learning in a subject. The idea was to generate some “harder” data for national evaluation since the transcripts had gotten “soft” with some schools issuing diplomas to students who couldn’t read or write.
The hs.credit app, by contrast, evaluates student growth monthly throughout the 11th and 12th grades. That makes cheating twenty times harder. Our “hard” credits reflect the “hardness” of gold in economic discourse: more cannot be printed by government decree. Quite simply, these credits are hard to earn since they engage objective third-party credit experts to evaluate academic output.
Furthermore, like bitcoin, anyone can verify each credit published on the platform for themselves! The non-transferable NFTs (#ntNFT) on hs.credit allow anyone to review the work behind any awarded credit by clicking or scanning a QR code on the official transcript. This is the hs.credit version of a “proof-of-work” security model (language used by the bitcoin network).
Don’t get me wrong, some credits on the hs.credit platform will be endorsed by Ivy League institutions, The College Board, or International Baccalaureate, and other learning communities such as The Consortium Schools, vocational schools, private/charter school networks, or the Transfer Schools in NYC where these credits were first developed.
For communities long engaged in project-based learning, porting their student transcripts to the ownerless, decentralized hs.credit platform offers access to that “real-world output to an authentic audience” referenced in the description above of gold standard academic credits.
Students’ Web3 ROI
So what, exactly, does the word STAKING mean? It comes from finance. Decentralized finance (DeFi), in particular. In DeFi, users serve as investors by STAKING money on a platform. STAKING is the inverted language used for what is called “investing” in traditional banking — a way to leverage money to make more money.
With the industrial banking model of investing, accredited investors (rich people) were the only ones allowed to invest in new enterprises. By contrast, in an inverted marketplace (i.e. DeFi), anyone can stake with as little or as much money as they like by locking their money on a platform. Doing so helps that platform expand the liquidity of its financial offerings. In return for STAKING funds, investors earn the transaction fees or interest payments from services provided such as loans, derivatives, or currency swaps. The more successful the financial platform, the greater the reward earned by those that staked capital (invested).
NOTE: Bitcoin is unique in the industry as a digital commodity in the same way that precious metals are unique in traditional finance as an industrial commodity. The rest of DeFi is less commodity than bitcoin and often closer to a security, like a stock, where there is a company behind the asset. Bitcoin has no company, no CEO, no headquarters (just like Gold or Silver). In bitcoin terms, STAKING is called “MINING” — bitcoin “miners” invest in the servers and electricity required to secure the bitcoin network and in exchange they are given network fees and newly minted Bitcoin as payment for their investment.
Regardless of how inverted investments work (staking vs. mining), the idea is the same — to incentivize people to fund a platform by offering a return on investment (ROI) with all users being invited to participate. STAKING accelerates network effects for a platform by having users put “skin in the game:” those who have invested their valuable resources on a platform are likely to promote and protect the platform as if it were their own.
In an academic setting, STAKING is an investment opportunity for 11th and 12th grade students. Instead of investing money, students invest sweat equity — their time/attention required to study a topic. With student attention as our source of value, we incentivize a laser-focus on student learning outcomes by first demanding student “buy in” to a credit. Students become co-owners of the platform by choosing to STAKE a credit’s content and then to lend their creative output by uploading a media segment for publication onto that credit’s stream of exemplars.
Since you are spending your time to read this article, you have yourself STAKED resources into inverted/Web3 credits. Welcome to the hs.credit wormhole! To deepen your investment, we will now dive deeper into the weeds of implementation.
Let me apologize in advance for a somewhat boring (hopefully short) detour. This is where just using the app will be much more intuitive than having to read about it.
STUDENT — 11th and 12th grade students apply for an account to begin earning credits on the Web3 transcript [see FINAL NOTE: The Staking Credit section below for details about initial account creation]. Each STUDENT account offers an official transcript with a limit of 20 credits (ten for 11th grade, ten for 12th grade). If a student who is in middle school convinces their teacher to work with them to produce a credit, and that credit is approved, there is nothing stopping them from starting their transcript before 11th grade. However, this would be a wasteful and teachers are discouraged from agreeing to it: if the student goes on to 11th and 12th grade, and subsequently replaces their earlier credits, the credit experts would have been paid to grade work that never appears on an official transcript.
TEACHER →CREDIT EXPERT — To initiate a credit, students must identify a teacher who will provide feedback as they practice the academic skills and produce their media segment. When the final product is uploaded, a pseudonymous committee of three credit experts evaluate each credit. If two approve, the asset is minted as an #ntNFT on the transcript. These credit experts earn $30 per 10-minute media segment evaluated. In order to become a credit expert for a particular credit, a teacher must first work with students on that specific credit and accurately evaluate their work. [More on this later in the section STEP 3: MINT an NFT].
CREDIT STUDIO — Credit studios are the accounts that author credits on the platform. These are the owners of the curricula on hs.credit. In return for posting a credit, hundreds of youth around the country may study the topic and produce youth media to the specifications of the credit. In other words, hs.credit is a platform that mobilizes youth action in schools across the nation. PBS and NPR affiliates make great credit studio candidates since they already work with curricular experts and could quickly post their academic assets on hs.credit to receive free youth media curated (fact checked) by the teacher and verified by the credit experts. Similarly, any podcaster that wants to monetize a stream of youth content could publish their own credit(s) and use the resulting media in their podcast stream. [An example is provided toward the end of this article]
SUBSCRIBER — The free version of the hs.credit app allows anyone to browse credit streams and review related curricular resources provided by the credit studios. Imagine a TikTok of youth journalism. However, no meta-data is available to free SUBSCRIBER accounts — only the media segment itself and a link to the pseudonymous student profile and credit description. In order to learn about the teacher who coached the student or location, gender, race, or school affiliation of the student, school districts and universities must purchase annual API access to the aggregated NFT meta-data. The membership fees paid for those subscriptions fund the credit expert grading fees.
FACULTY — This final user category represents academic brands — they provide a stamp of approval to credits published by credit studios. This could be a university like Harvard or an individual high school or a specific school district as well as traditional testing companies like The College Board. The only role of FACULTY is to provide their stamp of approval to specific credits. A high school principal or school district superintendent are examples of FACULTY who use their unique stamp to indicate which credits are approved for use within their institution or jurisdiction. Similarly, a university admissions dean can provide their stamp of approval for credits they deem in alignment with a specific brand of critical thinking. The College Board could, similarly, select specific credits with an “AP Government Credit” stamp, giving students a project-based option to Advanced Placement coursework — a 10-month AP course that once ended in a single standardized AP Exam would be unbundled into a series of monthly uploads, each aligned to a segment of the AP Course Syllabus. FACULTY accounts allow academic brands to leverage their reputation to form partnerships with credit studios to promote their particular approach to project-based learning.
With that common language in place, let’s dive into the heart of the hs.credit technology: the STAKE, PITCH, and MINT phases of credit accumulation.
STEP 1: STAKE Content
Students drive instruction in project-based learning. Educators ensure their success with feedback cycles and executive function resources. This is an essential requirement of inverted credits: the learning experience is student-first rather than district-first.
Therefore, the first key to such a credit system is assurance that students see themselves as creators of the learning rather than consumers of it. STAKING allows the hs.credit platform to evaluate student buy-in before they begin work on a credit.
In traditional high school transcripts (see Carnegie Units) students earn credit after a specified number of hours of “seat time,” which unlocks their opportunity to take a high stakes final exam, usually taking place on the same week as multiple other high stakes final exams. That is the top-down, compliance over creativity, learn to do a factory job or work in a cubicle model. Final exams provide feedback at the end of learning when feedback is too late to make any difference.
With an inverted approach, students invest their attention to learn about a topic at the start of the learning journey. In a sense, we ask that students cram for the final exam at the begging of the inverted learning process.
The STAKING process begins when a student chooses which credit to complete, with which teacher, and schedules that credit for a particular calendar month. By focusing on one credit per month students end up earning more credits during a 10-month academic year than they would by studying five subjects concurrently the way most schools do in industrial high schools.
Note that if a student has been assigned a math teacher at their school who they do not find helpful but their uncle tutors them on the side, they have the option to choose that uncle as the assigned teacher for the credit. In this way, the uncle is identified as a potential educator and, if they are successful coaching students to earn credits on the platform, they can then earn a side-hustle of $180/hr as a credit expert who grades incoming student work.
While the MINT phase described below must occur at the end of the month/year selected for the credit, students can STAKE content for a credit as soon as the credit has been scheduled by the student and the selected teacher has verified their agreement to work with the student.
STAKING allows room for student choice and creativity (the PITCH), as well as reducing the importance of final exams as a form of feedback.
STEP 2: PITCH a Media Project
The hs.credit app offers hyper-local media markets an opportunity to benefit from the service of local high school Juniors and Seniors as hyper-local journalists. Local media markets have been abandoned in recent years by the media establishment because they are decidedly unprofitable. Students, therefore, don’t face much competition beyond the efforts of their peers.
The unexpected link between high school education and The Fourth Estate is at the heart of engaging students in authentic learning, not to mention that it extends public school budgets to concurrently improve local media coverage. It is hard to overstate the social value of having 11th and 12th grade students nationwide publishing local stories which have benefited from cycles of teacher feedback and approval.
The PITCH appears on the hs.credit app as a project template or tutorial. This outline defines what the final product will include and how practice of specific academic skills is scheduled during the month-long production experience. Students fill in the PITCH template based on their own questions and curiosities, diving deep into an area of the credit content.
The PITCH process happens between the teacher and the student, off-platform. The hs.credit platform NFTs represent only the final student media segment, not the multiple cycles of revision completed by the student and teacher to get there.
If a teacher approves a sub-par pitch and then approves the final product but the credit experts determine that the asset did not meet the standard for publication, that teacher does not gain access to joining the ranks of paid credit experts. In other words, teachers are incentivized by the potential of a lucrative side-hustle ($180/hr) to help students produce content that meets the expectations of the credit in question.
RECAP: Credit studios publish a credit on hs.credit by posting: (1) content resources for students to STAKE; and (2) a project template defining how the final media segment is to be constructed, allowing students to PITCH their project to the teacher they selected. The final element of a credit is (3) a publishing standard. This rubric or otherwise formatted guideline informs the credit experts (and the students) how to determine whether an asset is to be published on the stream of approved credit exemplars.
STEP 3: MINT an NFT
At the end of the month, after the teacher and students(s) have executed on the PITCH template, the student is ready to upload a final media asset (10-min or less of audio or video) for review by three credit experts. After the upload but before credit experts are paid to evaluate, the teacher indicates if they approve the credit for publication. In this way, only work that has been pre-approved by a teacher incurs the platform cost of $90 required for grading ($30 to each of three evaluating credit experts).
If a teacher approves a credit for grading but the credit expert panel disagrees, that teacher moves farther from being able to earn the fee as a credit expert. Since students get to select who their teacher is, and any teacher who never approves credits will encourage students to list someone else for credit approval (as described earlier with the uncle serving as math tutor).
NOTE: The 10-minute limit of each youth media segment serves two purposes. First, it forces editing of the media captured during the month of production. Editing is powerful metacognitive activity — selecting which segments to keep and what to leave on the cutting-room floor forces students to review and reflect on their work in exactly the ways that have been shown by brain science to consolidate learning. Second, the 10-min limit allows us to pay credit experts in a uniform manner, $30 per 10-minute segment review.
Note that a teacher who works in a low-income school where students may earn credits at a slower rate are able to become paid credit experts as fast as teachers in well resourced schools. Teachers become paid credit experts based on how well their determination of what is credit-worthy matches that of existing credit experts. Even if 90% of a teacher’s class does not earn a credit, the teacher is only evaluated based on whether the 10% that they indicate are ready for publication are ultimately published. While teachers that work in low-income schools with fewer resources are not disadvantaged by our platform, it is very likely that their students would be. For this reason we included an additional economic incentive — suma.cash (as in “summa cum laude”).
SUMA.CASH: An Anti-Bias Incentive
The student-first approach to value creation described above turns to students as our investor class. Students experience a return on investment of their attention as they progress through the monthly credit journey, culminating in an NFT credit. If that credit is then featured in a block of suma.cash, the student earns a basic income award (monthly suma.cash payments for 25 years). The goal is to incentivize students to share resources across socio-economic barriers.
Many students will earn NFT credits on their hs.credit transcript. Those that can combine their approved NFTs into a diverse block are rewarded with subsequent suma.cash payments.
While adults in major school districts like New York City have failed to address issues of school segregation, we at hs.credit are confident that students can collaborate to share resources if they are paid generously for doing so.
We also believe that meaningful education means learning with people from diverse backgrounds. Incentivizing students to work with those from other zip codes is therefore an essential part of creating a gold standard high school credit platform. More specifically, it is the difference between earning NFT credits on hs.credit and minting a block of suma.cash.
For example, ten students, each from a different zip code, who have earned a particular credit, can propose a block of credits by signing a transaction with the addresses of their ten NFTs. Every three months the system evaluates all proposed blocks and selects those with the most diversity (the most zip codes represented) to begin issuing suma.cash. Those approved as part of the new block receive the first issuance of suma.cash into their wallets as soon as they complete their 20 credit transcript (or turn 26 years-of-age). The monthly disbursement of suma.caash continues for 100 blocks, or 25 years (100 blocks, each 3-months apart yields 300 months, or 25 years of monthly payments).
I might create a credit as my own credit studio, based on my book, Education In The Digital Age: How We Get There. Any student would first have to read or listen to the audiobook and annotate or note-take accordingly to STAKE that content. I would verify that they read the book by asking students to use their notes in a discussion of an enumerated list of key ideas, for example. The teacher could evaluate this in individual or group discussion formats. Approved students would then begin based on the podcast segment template I provide, using the publishing expectation as a quality guide for self-evaluation along the way.
I would subsequently receive a stream of student content where students are diving deep into the ideas from my book. I can then stream the youth media from my book’s website or even a podcast stream of my own creation. I am expected to give credit based on Creative Commons licensing, and I can even sell ads to play between segments. I am NOT allowed to chop up any youth media segment without prior approval from the student — If I play the entire segment, I am free to do so at will being that I am the credit studio who published that credit.
FINAL NOTE: The STAKING Credit
Above we discussed the process of earning a credit. The same approach is applied to opening a new account on hs.credit — students must first understand why hs.credit exists before they are approved to establish their transcript on the platform.
Interested youth must buy-in by following an introductory course which explains their role as the co-owners and producers of academic content. They are asked to create a simple audio or video response, explaining their understanding of the hs.credit platform. This is the staking credit required to open a new student account and is at the heart of our #spreadtheworm campaign of students explaining this platform to their peers.
While the hs.credit app is an academic transcript app, the community of young people hosting their transcripts on the app represent a social justice movement to improve society through deep learning experiences. The staking credit requires that students study the hs.credit model and are able to articulate why decentralized credits are more equitable and more academically meaningful, as well as why earning suma.cash to increase diversity is so important to their learning experience.
Students create and then upload the staking credit along with meta data such as location, username, password, gender, race, zip code, and an optional profile description, high school affiliation, and visual avatar in order to apply for a new account. As noted above, none of the meta-data is available publicly on the platform; this data is only available, in aggregate, to paid subscribers via API.
©2022 Nadav Zeimer, All Rights Reserved
If you have scrolled all the way down here, you must really be interested! And we do need all the help we can get. We are looking for college-age interns who can help with our social media, curriculum testing, and app development. Please refer interested interns to email@example.com
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