Dell Powers Majority of U.S. Classrooms

Dell powers Cornerstone primary lab

With a broad array of access devices, servers, and support services, Dell quietly supports about six out of every ten U.S. classrooms.
Best known for those ubiquitous desktops, Dell now sells beautiful all-in-one units (used at Cornerstone Charter School, pictured on the right).  But these days, Dell now sells a ton of 13 inch Latitude laptops to schools (most in the $400 range).  They recently started marketing a 10 inch Latitude tablet that is a full Window 8 device that meets testing specs for both consortia.
Jon Phillips, Dell’s worldwide education director, detailed all the ways that Dell is quickly becoming more than a device provider. In 2009, Dell Acquired Perot Systems and substantially expanded its ability to help “tying things together for education.” These days, Dell is “an end to end IT solutions provider,” according to Phillips.
At a recent business meeting, I told Michael Dell that I appreciated the work his family foundation is doing in education.  Phillips said, “Michael’s DNA is in education–and it lives itself out in Dell as an organization.”
When Dell won the St. Paul RFP, I reached out to Phillips to get some background on the Dell Learning Platform. “St. Paul is a great example of a diverse district in the process of defining their instructional model.” As outlined in the recent white paper Navigating the Future, the first step is the district vision of personalized learning.  The second step is “taking Dell services and frameworks and building their version of the learning platform around their instructional model.”
“Dell’s focus in software for education is centered around integrating instruction, use of data and compliance and security, that enable key elements of learning for student success ,” said Phillips.  He said Dell is diving into the five big complex issues facing K-12 today:

  1. Implementation of Common Core curriculum;
  2. Preparing for online assessments;
  3. Driving college and career readiness and help districts prepare knowledge workers;
  4. Implementing technology thoughtful instructional model; and
  5. Helping school districts define and implement their access model such as one-to-one–their plan and policy for teachers and students using Internet devices.

In districts around the country, Dell would like to “build a learning technology framework driven by  a school or district’s instructional model.” That means creating a common interface, integrated learning services, and an integrated data layer that brings all this valuable information together for teachers and students.
Dell is working with districts and several states like Illinois around interoperability through standards and systems such as inBLOOM.
“Dell’s real value prop is helping customers bring things together to personalize learning,” said Phillips.
Getting Smart was invited to attend the Dell “Path to Personalize Learning” Breakfast at the ISTE conference last week. The event showcased some great schools in the San Antonio area that are leveraging Dell’s products, particularly the Dell Latitude tablet, to engage students in personalized learning.
Also, three impressive young entrepreneur-spirited individuals, Zak Malamed, founder of, Andrew Jenks, documentary film maker, host of MTV’s World of Jenks and founder of the All American High School Film Festival and Shannon Shipley, last year’s winner and creator of ForwardTutoring, joined Dell to announce the kick off of the second Dell Education Challenge. By answering the question, “How would you improve educational access for primary students across the globe?” university students can win up to 10,000 dollars in seed money to fund their idea and one finalist will win a trip to pitch their idea to Dell.
Last year Challenge looked to inspire ideas to help solve the world’s education problems and more than 400 projects were submitted. This year Dell will continue to inspire innovative ideas will help solve today’s biggest issues that face today’s students.


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Edward G. Rozycki

Don't jump to any conclusions about the quality of hardware or software based on this report. Public schools are governed by politically sensitive people with limited budgets. Dell products are inexpensive. Upfront costs are lower than for other brands.
But Dell's customer service and rate of repair does not compare favorably with other brands. Politician-educators don't worry about such things. With luck they will be some place else (with, hopefully, a promotion for their past austerities) and not concerned with how the technology they left is faring two or three years down the pike.


Tom Vander Ark

No report, just an update on the surprising (to me) breadth of Dell's penetration and scope in K-12. Total cost of ownership is, as you suggest, a key purchase variable--investigate and build a plan before you buy any hardware!! See the DLN Blended Learning Implementation Guide for more:

Tom Vander Ark

The photo is the primary lab at Cornerstone Charter School in Detroit. All the adults wandering around were part of a tour and blended learning workshop hosted by CEE-Trust.

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