Microsoft wants students to develop better online research habits

Teachers can use Teams to ensure students aren't relying on misinformation.

Johner Images via Getty Images

It's easy for students to search the web when working on assignments, but Microsoft now wants to teach those students how to spot misinformation and otherwise think critically. In addition to an existing Search Coach, Microsoft is introducing a Search Progress feature in Teams for Education that helps teachers foster healthy online research habits through practice work. Educators can not only require a certain number of sources for an assignment, but check to see that students are searching responsibly — they'll know if pupils are only clicking the first site in the results, or using filters like NewsGuard to check source quality. Students can show their reasoning and work before turning in a project, too.

The Progress tool bolsters Search Coach (shown below), which encourages students using Teams to both search more precisely and watch out for falsehoods. They can limit searches to certain domains (such as .gov or .edu), date ranges and file types. They can even pass queries through fact checking sites to learn if a claim holds up under scrutiny. Bing's safe search is enabled by default, and the results are ad-free. Teachers can also use search trends to refine their lessons.

Search Progress will be available in preview form later in the year. Search Coach is already available in Teams worldwide. Both features will work with over 50 languages, Microsoft says.

Microsoft also wants to improve students' overall reading skills. The company's Reading Coach will be available in the Immersive Readers for Word Online, OneNote, Teams Assignments, Minecraft Education and other platforms, giving students more reading fluency experience both online and in the apps they use. Reading Progress, meanwhile, will add comprehension questions to be sure kids truly understand what they read. Both upgrades will be available later this year.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.