People search in many different places, for many different things. And while we tend to talk about Bing as one search engine, it is a little more like a Swiss Army knife, responding to different contexts and intents to provide the best possible results to help people find and do what they need.
Today, we’re announcing a new initiative to give one context in particular a special treatment: we’re helping our nation’s schools to teach digital literacy skills. Starting later this year, Bing For Schools will offer schools in the U.S. the option to tailor the Bing experience for K-12 students by removing all advertisements from search results, enhancing privacy protections and the filtering of adult content, and adding specialized learning features to enhance digital literacy.
The program is completely voluntary: schools have the choice of participating or keeping the normal Bing experience. For those that opt-in, Bing will enable the experience across all searches from within the school’s network on Bing.com, without any need for special software or a different search address. And of course, Bing For Schools is free for any school or districts wishing to participate.
While we aren’t ready to go into too much detail, as we’re still finalizing what will be available in the first iteration, here are a few things you can likely expect:
- Keeping Our Kids Focused on Learning: As a country, we’ve set schools aside as a special place that is focused on learning, and have traditionally kept advertising out of that environment. Bing For Schools removes ads from the search experience, keeping with our strong belief that schools are for learning and not selling.
- Protecting Our Kids: Bing already offers the ability to filter out adult content with SafeSearch, but with Bing For Schools, SafeSearch will automatically default to the strict setting and remove kids ability to change it.
- Educating Our Kids: In addition to the beautiful Bing homepage images, which feature hotspots that encourage exploration of new and unexpected topics, Bing For Schools will offer short lesson plans that teach digital literacy skills that are related to search and tied to the Common Core. For example, a picture of a sloth 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.
As we look to begin another school year, we’ll make more information available. For now, interested educators and parents can find out more at Bing.com/schools and register to receive updates and information on how they can encourage their school to participate and support the program.
Microsoft employs thousands of parents, so you can imagine that we’re very passionate about the Bing For Schools program. The Microsoft Partners in Learning network has allowed us to provide high-quality programs to educators for years, and we are excited for Bing For Schools to add to that work. We see the program as something we can build alongside teachers, parents, and visionaries to create the best possible search experience for our children, and will continue to update you with new information as we work towards our launch later this year.
-Matt Wallaert, Bing Behavioral Scientist (and former teacher)