REDMOND, Wash., April 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Bing in the Classroom — a free program that provides ad-free, safer, more private search in schools — exited the pilot stage on Wednesday and is now open to all eligible K–12 schools in the U.S. The program, formerly known as Bing for Schools, launched in pilot earlier this year in five of the largest U.S. public school districts. It has grown to include hundreds of districts covering over 4.5 million kids in more than 5,000 schools, serving over 35 million ad-free queries so far this school year. Bing is the only major search engine to offer schools in the U.S. an ad-free search experience on their networks.*
In addition to ad-free search, Bing in the Classroom sets strict filters to help block adult content, prevents student searches from being used for ad targeting and adds specialized learning features to promote digital literacy in the classroom. Microsoft estimates that over 15 billion search ads are being served to students every year while in school, exposing them to marketing messages for everything from for-profit online degree programs to fast food.
"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," said Matt Wallaert, creator of Bing in the Classroom, Microsoft.
Educators from across the country agree the program is enhancing the classroom environment and improving children's abilities to learn digital literacy skills.
"I teach kindergarten through fifth-grade media classes, and as soon as I started using Bing in the Classroom, I noticed my kids being more attentive and focused in class. We all know advertisements can be distracting, and with Bing in the Classroom I don't have to worry about inappropriate content getting in the way of the lesson plan or students' research," said Lynda Shipley, media specialist, Bremerton School District in Washington.
To enhance children's experience with technology in schools, Bing in the Classroom includes the following elements:
Ad-free and safer search. Upon activating Bing in the Classroom, Bing searches from within the school network will have three key enhancements:
Removal of all advertisements from Bing search results
Automatic strict filtering to help block adult content
Disabling the use of student searches for targeted advertising The service is offered completely free of charge and takes only a few minutes for an administrator to sign up. Parents can see whether a school is covered at http://www.bing.com/classroom/findyourschool.
Earn Bing Rewards credits for schools. You can help the school of your choice earn credits toward Bing Rewards just by searching with Bing from your home or mobile device. Bing Rewards allows you to choose a school to support and will aggregate the credits for everyone supporting that school. When 30,000 credits are accrued through Bing Rewards, Bing will send a Microsoft Surface tablet with Type Cover directly to the school. The more people search, the more credits they earn for their schools. About 60 regular Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface in a month for a school, with no limit on the number of tablets a school can earn. Another way you can show your support for #adfreesearch zone in schools is to go to http://www.bing.com/classroom/showsupport, join the social movement and share with your friends. More about Bing in the Classroom and how to get involved can be found at http://www.bing.com/classroom.
Daily lesson plans based on the Bing daily homepage image. Bing is well-known for having a big, beautiful homepage image that changes daily and inspires visitors to explore their world. Bing in the Classroom makes it easier to incorporate digital literacy into schools by offering three learning activities every school day. The activities are free and use the Bing homepage image of the day to pose a question that cannot be solved by a simple search, encouraging kids to use critical thinking alongside search to grow their curiosity. In addition to being linked from the homepage image, Bing keeps a growing archive of the lessons on the Microsoft Educator Network.
To celebrate Wednesday's launch of Bing in the Classroom, NBC Correspondent Jenna Bush Hager is partnering with Bing to visit participating school PS 205 Clarion in Brooklyn, New York, for a dialogue on the importance of digital literacy in the classroom. More information about the initiative can be found at http://www.bing.com/classroom.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.