A Game That Shaped a Generation

Who remembers the game The Oregon Trail? Initially released in 1971, the game went through ten iterations and has sold over 65 million copies. I vividly remember playing the Apple II version, released in 1985, in elementary school.

(Little known fact: Willamette was the codename for the very first Intel Pentium 4 Processor)

Back then, computers just started to find their way into schools, with the Apple II becoming the first to reach widespread adoption. I remember learning how to touch type, and used basic learning applications that were really just supplemental to traditional analog classroom learning.

Ironically, The Oregon Trail was probably the most educational piece of software that I remember, and it was a game that was used as a reward for good behavior during “Computer Class.” It taught resource and risk management, and conveyed a basic lesson on life in the mid-nineteenth century during the western expansion of the United States. There were dangers from wild animals, sickness, starvation, and even crossing rivers in a careless manner. For me, it was the first time that technology aided in my education.

Back To the Future

Fast forward over thirty years, and PC devices have eclipsed Apple in the classroom and the IT ecosystem that supports them. They have incredible abilities to drive the educational process, and are used for virtually every subject. More and more schools are issuing laptops directly to students to use throughout the day. Loaded with Microsoft Windows or Google Chrome operating systems, these devices will likely be used by students later in their professional lives. Furthermore, PC-based educational devices have exponentially increased in power, performance, and reliability, all the while becoming more affordable. School districts across the nation are finding new and innovative ways of integrating technology into their curriculums, and Dell is at the forefront of helping them drive that innovation and serve the needs of educators and students across the nation and around the world.

Recently, we launched three new mobile devices that are designed to embrace new initiatives such as student-led learning. We’ve created these systems to provide the widest range of choice with maximum flexibility to meet the needs of K-12 educational institutions. Each of these devices feature the power of 6th and 7th Generation Intel processors, and deliver 10+ hours of battery life.

A Robust 2-in-1 for the Classroom


Most prominent are the Latitude 11 Convertible with Dell Productivity Active Pen and Chromebook 11 Convertible. These two devices are the newest additions to our education portfolio, and they bring new ways to collaborate and learn utilizing the PC. Each has a 360 degree hinge, which allows the devices to operate as standard laptops, tablets, or can be put in tent-mode for content consumption. The Windows-based Latitude 11 Convertible is further enhanced by an active stylus with 2048 levels of sensitivity. Studies show that diagramming thinking before solving a science problem leads to higher scores, and that using a pen improves conceptual application. The Dell Productivity Active Pen coupled with the Dell Latitude Convertible allows students to diagram and illustrate their problem solving process, and seamlessly move from application to application while working towards the problem’s conclusion. In addition, there’s a “world-facing” camera when in tablet mode, allowing students to create movies on the go, opening up creative possibilities. You can learn more about these devices here, including specs and configuration options.

Traditional Doesn’t Mean Boring

Next, we launched two traditional-style educational laptops, each with 10+ hours of battery life. The Latitude 11 and Chromebook 11 each feature a 180 degree lay-flat design for collaborative work, and the Latitude 13 and Chromebook 13 feature even more powerful processing options including Intel Core i-Series processors. Both of these product lines not only have improved battery life over previous products, but they have improved on weight and size, as well. The Latitude 13 features optional E-Rate mobile broadband, allowing education institutions to support connected learning at a discounted rate wherever WiFi isn’t available. In addition, an optional high-quality touch-screen with Corning Gorilla Glass gives these laptops touch-collaborative capabilities.

Born of Rugged

Dell is the only manufacturer of fully rugged compute devices that also designs products for the education market. That experience and engineering capabilities have helped us design systems that can withstand the rigors of the learning environment, be it inside or out. When you have a laptop being handled by kids all day long, with their lids opening and closing constantly, being plugged in for charging and unplugged, and the possibility of spills an ever-present worry, is there any wonder that a school’s IT staff owns stock in Starbuck’s? Well, we build mobile devices for the military, first responders, law enforcement, field services, and other extreme computing environments, and we think we know a thing or two about how to make these laptops stand up to the abuse that kids may dish out. Want to see what kind of testing our fully rugged devices for adults go through? Watch this video: