Bing announced on their search blog today that they are launching Bing for Schools, a program that will partner with school districts across the country to provide students with a safer learning experience online.
With over 800,000 students around the U.S. from Detroit to Los Angeles taking part in the Bing for Schools pilot program, Bing is rolling out customized search in all schools, which will remove ads from search results pages, implement filters to block adult content, and will feature enhanced privacy protection.
Bing’s effort to increase digital literacy through search comes from a cited Pew poll finding that 94% of teachers think students will use a search engine to do homework or project research.
Digital Literacy Lessons
In addition to augmented search especially for K-12 students, Bing will also offer three digital learning activities each school day, enough for an entire school year. These lessons will be separated into K-4th, 5th-8th, and 9th-12th grades. These lessons will be catalogued at the Microsoft Partners in Learning portal, where users can search by student age, subject, skill, and more. These lessons aim to teach students about topics through a digital medium, as well as educating them on technology and how to utilize Bing’s search tools safely.
Bing Rewards to Schools
Besides providing free digital literacy lessons for students in grades K-12 for an entire school year, Bing also announced that by participating in the Bing Rewards program (which was launched in 2010 and rewards users for conducting searches on Bing), users can donate their credits to purchase Surface RT tablets for the school of their choice. Bing will aggregate credits from multiple users, and will give the school a tablet with a touch cover once 30,000 credits have been donated. In addition, you don’t have to be affiliated with the school in any way, you just must designate one when you want to use your credits.
Bing’s safer school search, customized lessons, and tablets can certainly help schools teach students how to retrieve information online and is a step in the right direction toward making technology commonplace in all places of learning. Schools that want to participate in the Bing For Schools program can apply through the website.
Image: Screenshot from Bing For Schools video on cited blog post.