About two years ago, I found a folder when moving a bunch of old boxes. In that folder were some loose papers and a journal. I flipped through the papers, rifled through the journal, and realized I was looking at a waypoint. See, the papers and the journal were full of my writing and my sketches from 20 years ago. Pencil sketches of Batman alongside a fictional newspaper reporting on the big helicopter crash in my hometown. Cartoon characters and fiction stories gallivanting as non-fiction, side by side.

I say this was a waypoint because it represents just one part of a life-long journey. While I never became a sketch artist or a painter, I did, by and large, become a writer. And to be able to look back 20 years and see what I was producing and see the spark that led to where I am now is incredibly powerful. But, it’s just a single point.

Imagine if everyone had hundreds of waypoints. Imagine if you could look back on anything that has ever interested you—science, math, art, coding, etc—and judge, objectively, the progress you’ve made. And imagine a shorter timeline. Imagine working on a project where you can visualize the historical waypoints of that single project. Compare and contrast. Evaluate your response to feedback. Improve.

In a traditional educational model, this is possible in short bursts. You hand in an assignment and you get feedback. Sometimes, you get the actual work back, sometimes you don’t. But almost certainly, if you are young enough to be in a K-12 environment, the work and the feedback is in paper form. Now, imagine the work being in a student-owned record. Imagine that work being created and shared both in traditional school settings and alternative school settings. Imagine students having access to the work they’ve created at any level of school and using that work to inform future projects, using that work to help them apply to college or apply to jobs.

And what if the work was initiated by the student? What if instead of teachers assigning projects, they sparked ideas. Then, with those ideas firing a million times per second in the minds of eager students, those students set out to create. That creation, in its early form, in its first submitted form, and in all its iterative forms could and should be owned by the student. And it could and should be used to help that student recognize their development path.

This is possible now. With blockchain-powered, decentralized applications, self-ownership of data is possible. That data does not have to be siloed in a single project, a single classroom, or a single school district anymore. It can be used, by the students and by the teachers and by the parents, to help build a lifelong record of learning and making and development.

Graphite is making this possible. It starts with decentralized, collaborative documents, file uploads, and communication. It continues with project-based learning, initiated by schools or students, but always with the data being owned by the creator. Decentralization, privacy, security, and data ownership are possible now, and they are coming to the world of education sooner than you think.

If you’re interested now, check out Graphite.