Growth in the education technology sector has been nothing short of exponential — according to Fortune, overall spending for education technology in the U.S. reached $632 million in 2010-’11. It shows no sign of stopping, with predictions to reach $19 billion globally by 2019.

But the painful truth is that even with the tens of billions of dollars funding education technology initiatives across the United States, it is hard to reach the conclusion that education technology is making a substantial impact.

Many smart people think that if we just put technology into students’ hands we will see miraculous results. From MOOCs to flipped classrooms to laptops for each student, efforts to use technology in education have, misguidedly, been used to circumnavigate the educator. This is a HUGE problem because, simply put, teachers matter. Meaningful technology in education cannot cut out the middleman — the teacher — as she is the most important piece in the education + technology equation.

The most useful implementation of technology in education will come in the form of data that helps educators by reducing their workloads and optimizing their efforts. We need to reduce the time they spend on low-value tasks and free them to do those things that machines cannot do like making meaningful connections with and inspiring students and colleagues. We need to make technology work for the person in the education model that matters most — and though it may sound controversial — I say that person is the teacher.

At HotChalk, we have just begun to scratch the surface on data-driven improvements to education. We are helping our university partners collect and analyze a plethora of data about their students, academic programs and faculty to drive constant innovation and growth.

You might be thinking, “But what about the students!?” Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about them. Our thought process is simple — empowered students can come only from empowered teachers. Therefore, empowering our teachers needs to be our technology’s No. 1 job.

The innovation that we need to solve the problems in U.S. education — education’s new killer app, if you will — is not some shiny new gadget or piece of software (though, yes, those things are definitely useful if built with the right purpose). It’s an expert teacher who is feeling and performing at their best. It’s a fully empowered teacher.

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