Microsoft is launching a “Bing for Schools” program that is tailored for K-12 students by “removing all advertisements from search results, enhancing privacy protections and the filtering of adult content,” according to Matt Wallaert, a former teacher is now “Bing Behavioral Scientist.”
The service, which is voluntary for K-12 schools, will off the ad-free experience across all Bing.com searches from within the school’s network. No special software will be needed, according to Wallaert’s blog post. Schools have the option of sticking with the regular Bing.com experience if they don’t enter the program.
Digital literacy skills
The service will offer short lesson plans “that teach digital literacy skills” that are related to search and tied to the Common Core, which are the standards that provide “a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn,” according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. As an example, Microsoft showed a link to a Bing image of a sloth, which “might be coupled with the question “How many sloths could live in one square mile of jungle?” and a lesson helping students use search tools and critical thinking to find potential answers.”
Major competitors also in education
Microsoft, of course, is not the only major tech company to cater to schools. Google has a very large education initiative to to encourage schools to use its apps. The Google in Education site promotes the use of Google’s devices and platforms including Chromebooks, Google apps and YouTube EDU, which is YouTube’s portal for videos suitable for use in K through college classrooms.
Apple doesn’t have a web service for schools, but it has always had a strong program to get its gear adapted by schools, starting in the early 80′s with its Apple II. Apple recently signed a $30 million contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District that will result in iPads initially being rolled out to each student in 47 schools with the possibility of hundreds of million of dollars more being spent on iPad by LA Schools in the next two years, according to the Los Angeles Times. Apple offers discounts not just to schools but to students, teachers and other school staff as part of its Apple in Education program.
How to sign-up your school
Parents, teachers and others affiliated with schools can sign-up to get more information as Microsoft rolls out the registration process. Microsoft asks people to “Please understand that this program is a major undertaking and will take time to get to all the schools that express interest.