Bing is going to more schools. The Microsoft search engine announced yesterday that its Bing-without-ads engine is now moving beyond its pilot stage and will be available to any K-12 school in the country.
“Bing in the Classroom is a digital literacy program focused on helping kids learn how to use search to inspire curiosity and learn by doing,” its creator Matt Wallaert told VentureBeat, “rather than just copying worksheet questions into the search box.”
“When on the school network, we remove all the ads from search results on Bing.com and have strict content filtering in place,” he told us.
“Beyond this, we don’t use student searches that are done in the classroom to send kids personalized ads when they’re not at school.”
The classroom, both in K-12 and colleges, has become a major battleground for every manner of tech. Education is not only a huge market, but institutions can be steady customers — plus, introducing your tech to kids could make them predisposed toward your brand as they grow older.
More than 4.5 million students used this school-targeted Bing in the pilot program that was launched in August, the company said. A Bing Rewards program allows students and teacher to earn and track credits toward Surface tablets for their school by registering and searching with Bing.
Google pointed out to us that its Apps for Business has been available for free since 2007 as Apps for Education. It includes a Google Search where ads are turned off by default for logged-in users from K-12 domains, plus a SafeSearch filter. But that tech giant is not currently offering a Bing Rewards equivalent.
To entice schools more, Microsoft’s digital lesson plans teach digital literacy skills through short activities that are aligned to the Common Core curriculum and that start with the hi-res Bing home page image. The idea is to use the often jaw-dropping image to spark questions that require critical thinking and cannot be answered by a simple search.
Sample plans online include ones about the Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston, and the Globe Theater in England.