Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, trails Google in terms of its use and influence, but the software giant is trying to change that with a significant push in the education market.
This fall, a new program called Bing for Schools will offer daily lesson plans designed to teach students web-search skills, as well as a free pilot program that will give students a tailored, advertising-free search experience when on their school’s network.
Schools participating in the search pilot will receive ad-free Bing search, strict filtering to help block adult content, and augmented privacy protections, Microsoft says. School districts can register for these search enhancements now; a limited number will be accepted into the initial pilot, and others will be notified of future eligibility.
All schools, whether they participate in the pilot program or not, will have access to Microsoft’s free lesson plans for teaching web-search skills using its Bing search engine. Hosted at the Microsoft Partners in Learning website, these short activities that promote digital literacy and critical thinking will be available for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 and are aligned with the Common Core standards, Microsoft says.
What’s more, with an enhanced “Bing Rewards” program from Microsoft, you can sign up to receive credits toward earning Microsoft Surface RT tablets for your schools, simply by using Bing to search the web.
This latest incentive follows Microsoft’s offer of special pricing on its Surface RT tablets to schools. For a limited time, schools can buy any number of 32-gigabyte Surface RTs for $199, Microsoft says; with a Touch Keyboard Cover the devices will cost $249, and with a Type Keyboard Cover they’ll cost $289. That’s a savings of at least $300 per device. The offer is good until Sept. 30 or while supplies last.