Microsoft’s Bing in the Classroom program launched today, bringing ad-free searches to K-12 schools across the U.S.
A pilot version of the service, formerly known as “Bing for Schools,” launched earlier this year in five of the largest public school districts in the country.
In the months since, it has grown to hundreds of new districts, covering more than 4.5 million kids in 5,000-plus schools. According to Microsoft, the service has processed more than 35 million ad-free queries during this school year.
“We created Bing in the Classroom because we believe students deserve a search environment tailored for learning,” Microsoft’s Matt Wallaert said in a statement. “Classrooms should be ad-free, and that should be as true online as it is offline.”
More than just an educational search tool, the program offers enhanced privacy protections and sets strict filters to block adult content. It also prevents searches from being used for ad targeting.
Once activated, Bing in the Classroom searches only from within the school network, removing all advertisements from search results. Parents and teachers can breath a sigh of relief, as Redmond promises to guard kids from marketing messages like for-profit online degree programs and fast food.
Enhanced specialized learning features also promote digital literacy in the classroom by offering three learning activities each school day. Just like the adult version, Bing in the Classroom features a daily homepage image, which poses a question that requires critical thinking and the search engine to find an answer.
And if you miss a day or two of homepage lessons, Bing keeps an archive on the Microsoft Educator Network.
Adults can participate, as well, earning credits toward Bing Rewards by searching with the Microsoft-owned engine. When 30,000 credits are accrued, your school of choice will earn a Microsoft Surface tablet with Type Cover. There is no limit on the number of tablets a school can earn; about 60 Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface in a month.
To celebrate today’s Bing in the Classroom launch, NBC correspondent and former presidential daughter Jenna Bush Hager is visiting PS 205 Clarion in Brooklyn, NY, to discuss the importance of digital literacy in schools.
Last year, Google joined the education revolution when it launched Google Play for Education, which allows teachers to discover apps designed specifically for K-12 students.