What’s worth investing in? How to decide what technology you need

The promise of technology in the pursuit of learning is vast — and so are the profits. The SIIA valued the ed-tech market at $7.5 billion. With daily launches of new products promising to solve all manner of problems — from managing classrooms to engaging bored students with interactive content to capturing and organizing data, to serving as a one-stop-shop for every necessary service, choosing from the dizzying number of products on the market can be confusing.

But when it comes to the  specific task of helping students, what’s the best app in education? “A web browser,” said Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, a school that’s embraced technology for years. “Or a Google Doc, or anything that gives you the ability to make a film, or to research, to create, to connect or collaborate,” he said.

“If all we’re doing is valuing test scores, then we’re just using technology to deliver the same traditional curriculum.”`

Lehmann is famous in progressive education circles for his quote: “Technology must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” His point: The best technology allows students to explore and create “artifacts of their own learning.”

More by Tina Barseghian for KQED.