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Dell Jumps Into the Chromebook Education Market

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Dell announced today the launch of its Dell Chromebook 11, an "education-only" laptop that pits the device against Chromebooks produced by Acer and Samsung, among others.

Like its competitors, the Chromebook 11 will rely on the Google Chrome operating system, whcih allows educators and students to use Web-based applications and storage in the cloud. The device has been designed to have up to 10 hours of battery life, the kind of capacity that educators need, John Russell, Dell's product lead for the device, said in an interview. 

The laptop, in a 4-gigabyte configuration, is expected to be sold for less than $300 when it is available in January, according to Dell, a major developer and manufacturer of computer technology, based in Round Rock, Texas. 

By one recent measure, Google Chromebooks have a long way to go to catch up to the competition in the mobile-technology market. According to an IESD national online survey of district technology and media leaders, 81 percent of respondents said they intend to use iPads in the next year or two. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed adopt, or plan to adopt Google Chromebooks, according to the survey, conducted in May of 2013, which had 558 respondents.

What kind of a presence do Chromebooks currently have in U.S. school systems? According to a recent Google interview with Business Insider, Chromebooks are currently being used in 22 percent of districts.

My colleague Benjamin Herold reports on his Digital Education blog that the first school in the nation to roll out Dell's new Chromebook will be Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy, one of the country's most prominent technology-infused high schools and the subject of our year-long "Innovation Gamble" series.

Herold explains that the school's choice represents a change in direction—SLA has used Mac laptops for the past seven years, winning awards and national recognition along the way—and he suggests that it sends i nteresting signals about both the business and pedagogical battles taking place in the world of educational technology.

Other recent developments involving Chromebooks have played out in the K-12 market:

For the Dell offering, the simplicity of the Chrome environment was a compelling reason the company chose to "welcome that ecosystem into our family," Jon Phillips, managing director of Dell's worldwide education strategy, told Education Week.

He said Dell, which already has a presence in schools, is having discussions with districts of all sizes, and that Dell does not see its Chromebook offering as part of a "one-size-fits-all scenario" for districts.

"We want to work on the instructional strategy of our customers. We believe there are hybrid environments out there—not just 'We're an Apple district' or 'We're a Google,'" he said. 

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