RealTime IT News

Palm Education Program Flourishes

Palm, Inc. released findings today indicating that handheld technology in K-12 classrooms can improve the learning process, classroom management, and inspire more collaborative learning activities.

The study was based on 100 nationwide classrooms participating in the Palm Education Pioneer Program, which awarded $2.3 million in technology grants to 175 classrooms in the U.S. representing a broad economic sampling of student backgrounds.

SRI International, an independent research and technology development organization based in Menlo Park, Calif., monitored the overall experience and effectiveness of using handhelds for teaching and learning over the course of two-level evaluation program.

Findings reveal that 96 percent of respondents agreed that handheld computers are an effective instructional tool for teachers. 93 percent of those involved in the study agreed that having a classroom set of handheld devices will have a positive effect on teaching practices.

And finally, 73 percent of respondents agreed that handheld computers are more easily used in the flow of classroom activity than desktop computers.

Among the students and teachers interviewed, the use of handheld computers were said to promote student autonomy and responsibility. Teachers also found that use of handhelds transformed "inquiry" learning activities into more sophisticated experiences by providing students with the means to access data more easily.

On the downside, some teachers felt that the presence of handheld computing devices in classrooms could promote theft and loss, and that the challenges of learning some of the software programs could prove daunting for some students.

Palm intends to use the research results from SRI's study to develop Palm applications more specifically suited for educational purposes, the company announced.

"SRI's findings are based on the work of real teachers in actual classroom activities, not in the lab," said Barbara Means, PH.D., director of the SRI's Center for Technology in Learning. "SRI researchers collected data from teachers around the country who innovated in all kinds of classrooms, with all kinds of students."

Palm's educational study is part of a broader initiative to integrate handheld computing technology into mainstream industries.

Palm recently forged an alliance with Cat Electronics, a Peoria, Ill-based developer of an application called Pocket Technician, to provide the trucking industry with easy data access from handheld devices. Palm has also made recent forays into the health care industry with Kaiser Permanente by promoting Palm handheld computing as a solution to reducing administrative paperwork, costs, and maximizing time spent between nurses and patients.