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Microsoft Rolls Out New Search Features

Microsoft has announced two new search features: Bing Chat Enterprise for Faculty (for Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 users) and Search Progress, a new learning accelerator built into Teams Assignments, available to all Teams for Education users.

Launched in preview in July 2023, BCEF will be enabled for all eligible A3 and A5 users by Sept. 21, 2023. It differs from regular Bing Chat (which students will continue to use) in that there are commercial-level protections for faculty users. User and chat data stays within the organization generating it, Microsoft said. Chat data is not saved. Microsoft has no access to it, and it is not used to train other models.

An institution's IT professional licensed for Microsoft 365 A3 or A5 can also opt out of the addition if faculty don't want it by going to the BCEF management page. But if enabled, it can be accessed by faculty from or the Microsoft Edge sidebar when signed in with a Microsoft Entra ID (Azure Active Directory).

Faculty can use Bing Chat Enterprise to help create content, customize learning, brainstorm, summarize an open PDF in Edge, and create school schedules, thus enhancing efficiency, Microsoft said. More applications are available in the Microsoft Learn module. Educators who are not very familiar with AI can take a free short course here. More detailed information and a FAQ can be found on this page.

In addition to BCEF, Microsoft has launched a new learning accelerator called Search Progress, for educators to create and customize detailed research project assignments for students and to teach them information literacy.

Learners can use the free Search Coach to gather research materials. As they use the accelerator, it keeps track of their progress in research, gathering, evaluation, curation, and use of data, and conveys this step-by-step process to educators via the analytics module, Education Insights. The accelerator also includes NewsGuard ratings on information sites to help students and educators evaluate sources' conformity to journalistic standards.

Learn more about Search Coach and Search Progress here.

"Search Progress offers many benefits for both educators and students," Microsoft said. "For educators, Search Progress allows you to get a view of your student's thinking in the research process."

With Education Insights, the company added, "it becomes much more straightforward for you to identify which of your students are ahead, which are on track, and which will need more assistance. You can also use Insights to have deeper conversations with your students about their specific search habits, and to better tune future assignments to the needs of your class."

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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