In Education, Technology Helps, But Humans Matter Most

As the son of a parent who was deeply involved in the local school system, I developed from an early age a strong appreciation for the enormous contribution that educators make, both in the classroom and in the community.

Educators serve as a source of stability in the lives of their students. In many parts of America, teachers represent the only consistent positive adult presence in young people's lives. Principals, guidance counselors, professors, staff, and other school administrators not only expand minds; they nurture the confidence, ambition, and hope that drives our country forward.

We so often say "thank you" to educators at the end of the year. But now -- before pencils hit paper and fingers start swiping screens in classrooms across America -- it's also worth taking the time to thank them as the year begins.

For the hard work they've put in over the summer preparing lessons and readying the school to open its doors on that first day.

For their commitment to return to schools year after year.

For the impact they will have starting on day one.

Educators come from different backgrounds and take different approaches to their work. But one thing they all agree on, the thing that gets them out of bed in the morning -- be they teachers, administrators, or otherwise -- is a passion for helping young people succeed and become the best, most productive versions of themselves.

Technology plays a big role in helping educators make that happen.

Over the last 20 years, technology has revolutionized the education landscape. From procurement and attendance, to grading and assessment, technology has reshaped the way in which educators do business. Automating processes allows administrators to cut costs and invest more directly in learning, while tech tools like digital blackboards, coding, and educational gaming help teachers add new dynamism to lesson plans and engage tech-savvy students in a language they understand and embrace.

Technology has also helped families become more involved in their children's learning throughout the entire K-12 and college experience. Many school systems and universities across the country have developed web platforms that allow parents to go online to monitor their student's grades, see whether they're turning in homework, and make sure their students stay on track once they leave home for college.

Yet, even as we celebrate the contribution technology makes to helping educators do their job most effectively, it is important to recognize there is one thing technology will never replace: the value of the human element in helpings schools, students, and communities succeed.

Technology can and does enhance the performance of educators, professors, and entire school and university systems. But it will never replace the intuition of a teacher prepping her students for the big test, the reassuring words of a guidance counselor encouraging his mentee to apply to college, or the wisdom imparted by a dean at graduation to her departing class of seniors.

So, with students of all ages enjoying their last few days of summer and educators busily preparing for the term ahead, here is my call to action: As the nation heads back to school this fall, let's remember to thank our educators for the indispensable role they play in nurturing the young minds of those who will lead our country into the future.

Now, more than ever, they deserve our praise, our appreciation, and our support.

Kermit S. Randa is chief executive officer of PeopleAdmin, the leader in cloud-based talent management solutions for education and government. He has twenty years of executive experience leading firms in the software industry.