Microsoft has launched an ad-free, tailored version of the Bing search engine for use within the classroom.
The Redmond giant's latest scheme, dubbed "Bing in the Classroom," is a customized version of the Bing search engine for use by students. The search engine is advertisement-free and comes with enhanced privacy controls; allowing teachers to step up filters to block adult content and ad targeting. In addition, Microsoft says that educators can "can add various learning features to Bing that promote students' digital literacy."
Microsoft estimates that over 15 billion search advertisements are issued to students every year, touting everything from marketing messages and for-profit degree programs to junk food — potentially providing a distraction and taking away the value of using online resources for learning.
A pilot program finished on Wednesday, and after its success, Bing in the Classroom is now available to all eligible K-12 schools in the United States. The pilot took place in five of the largest US public school districts, and has since been used by 4.5 million children in over 5,000 schools.
Matt Wallaert, creator of Bing in the Classroom said:
We created Bing in the Classroom because we believe students deserve a search environment tailored for learning. Classrooms should be ad-free, and that should be as true online as it is offline.
In addition to providing students with a purely resource-based search engine, teachers are also able to view daily lesson plans from the Bing homepage.
The project not only gives Microsoft the chance to encourage the next generation of Web users to use Bing rather than Google or Yahoo as a familiar tool, but also can give teachers piece of mind that students are not viewing unsuitable content while they are in IT-based lessons.