Microsoft has launched Bing for Schools, a national pilot program that allows schools to choose to avoid the commercialization of their students’ internet searches. Bing for Schools means that students using the service will see no ads in their search results.
Microsoft told me that this initiative is about removing paid advertising from their search results in the school context and helping to maintain schools as a commerce-free zone. Advertisers that Microsoft have talked to have generally been supportive: this is net good for them, as they spend less on errant clicks from young students who are not their intended customer, and can concentrate their spend on the people who actually matter to them.
Microsoft, on the Bing for Schools site, describes the initiative further: “As part of Microsoft’s continued focus on promoting digital literacy in education, the Bing for Schools program offers daily lesson plans designed to teach search skills, Bing Rewards enhancements to help earn Microsoft Surface RT tablets for schools, and, for schools admitted to the pilot program, a tailored Bing search experience for K-12 students when on the school network.
Schools participating in the search pilot will receive ad-free Bing search, strict filtering to help block adult content, and augmented privacy protections. School districts can register for these search enhancements now; a limited number will be accepted into the initial pilot, with other schools being notified about future eligibility. But many of the educational features of Bing for Schools are available to non-pilot schools as well, so be sure to explore all the ways you can support digital literacy in your school.”
Several school districts have signed up already:
— Los Angeles Unified School District (California)
— Atlanta Public Schools, Fresno (California)
— Unified School District
— Detroit Country Day School
Bing for Schools includes:
— Ad-free search. Upon activating Bing for Schools, Bing searches from within the school network will have three key enhancements:
— Removal of all advertisements from Bing search results
— Automatic strict filtering to help block adult content
— Augmented privacy protections
— Earn Bing Rewards credits for schools. You can help the school of your choice earn credits toward Bing Rewards just by searching the Web from home or your mobile device. Bing Rewards allows you to choose a school to support and will aggregate the credits for everyone supporting that school. When 30,000 credits are accrued through Bing Rewards, Bing will send a Microsoft Surface RT tablet with Touch Cover directly to the school. The more people search, the more credits they earn for their schools. About 60 regular Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface RT each month for a school.
— Daily lesson plans based on the Bing daily homepage image. Bing is well-known for having a big, beautiful homepage image that changes daily and inspires visitors to explore their world. Bing for Schools makes it easier to incorporate digital literacy into the classroom by offering three learning activities every school day, targeted at kindergarten through fourth, fifth through eighth and ninth through 12th grades. The activities are free, aligned with Common Core State Standards and use the Bing homepage image of the day to pose a critical-thinking question that can be solved using search tools. In addition to being linked from the homepage image, Bing will keep a growing archive of the lessons on the Microsoft Partners in Learning site.