Every day, learners are inundated by information from a vast array of media and digital resources. However, studies show that only 1 in 10 students can distinguish between fact and opinion. Educators face the challenge of ensuring that students learn to become more informed consumers and producers of digital content.
Information literacy, including strategies for finding credible sources and staying safe online, has long been taught by school staff, but educators struggle to prioritize information literacy into lesson plans. Ensuring students follow and maintain appropriate processes for gathering information—and coordinating with media specialists and librarians—can be difficult and time consuming. Microsoft’s Learning Accelerator suite of tools provides schools with the solutions and educational expertise they need to positively impact academic, social, and emotional growth for all students.
Search Coach is one such solution in the suite that supports educators as they teach students to search for, evaluate, analyze, and choose informational sources online. It can enhance instruction by providing students with strategies for identifying credible sources while safely navigating the web, all within Microsoft Teams for Education. Search Coach also provides educators with insights into their students’ search habits to better inform instruction on information literacy.
Identifying credible sources
As learners navigate digital content, they are required to sift through massive amounts of information that may or may not be credible and reliable. Educators teach students to evaluate and identify credible sources, but when it comes to putting learning into practice, students can be challenged by the copious amount of information available. Educators also find it difficult to provide individual feedback about source credibility to all students.
Search Coach was designed with the help of leading information literacy experts to provide tips and strategies for students as they search for and evaluate sources of information.
This tool teaches students how to use filters to refine their search queries to find the most credible and relevant information. Queries can be filtered by domain, file types, date range, and operators.
Search Coach provides tips during online search
Search Coach also utilizes NewsGuard, a company that objectively rates thousands of websites, to help students better understand and judge the credibility of a source. When students select the NewsGuard card, they are shown a list of credibility and transparency criteria and as well as an analysis that are used to provide a credibility rating. This integration can help students put their information literacy skills into practice.
NewsGuard objective ratings
“Search Coach really does surface the tools and the information that our students need to make well educated decisions around the validity of the results they’ve been presented with. Things like the domain, whether or not the NewsGuard score is quite high, really point towards how valid that data is.” - Matthew Cooke, Digital Technology Teacher, Napier Boy’s High School, New Zealand
Maintaining student safety
Educators and families also need to ensure that students can navigate safely online. Data indicates that 71% of search traffic clicks are made on the first page of search results. Advertisers pay search hosts to ensure that their products and services appear first on search results to get users to select their site.
Search Coach uses Bing SafeSearch to ensure that students are not directed to advertisements. This feature is always enabled to ensure that students can safely navigate through search queries without being targeted by advertisers.
By utilizing both Bing SafeSearch and NewsGuard, Search Coach provides a safe space for students to learn as they navigate through the vast array of information that exists online.
Continuing teaching and learning
Not only does Search Coach help students learn to find credible sources, it also focuses learners on how to form more effective search queries. When students use Search Coach, they are provided with tips that include common search strategies and best practices for narrowing their search results to the most relevant sources.
Additionally, to support educators in tracking student progress and learning around information literacy, Search Coach provides actionable insights into student searches through Education Insights in Microsoft Teams for Education. These insights can help educators make thinking visible by showing exactly how students construct queries and gather sources. Educators have access to a variety of data including which students opened only the first result after a search and how many search attempts were made. They are also able to analyze common search terms and patterns across an entire class, informing individual, small group, and whole class learning.
Actionable insights on student searches
Educators can prepare students to use Search Coach through a collection of information literacy lesson plans that teach search techniques across grade levels. These quick learning experiences cover a variety of topics to introduce concepts that students can apply in traditional search engines like Bing. Teacher resources are also provided to support educators navigating Search Coach.
The Economist Educational Foundation, an independent charity, has a teaching resource on safe independent online research about the news, which is exactly the sort of thing Search Coach is designed to support.
“What Search Coach does, is it fits into the framework and the skills we’re already teaching students. It just gives them a way to do it within the technology platform that we are already using… Accessing information, evaluating information, and then using it with integrity is the goal. So, Search Coach is part of that process as we teach students to be better users of information.” – Amber Peterson, Teacher Librarian, International Community School
Search Coach uses scaffolded support to empower students to think critically and search with confidence while building important information literacy skills. Its valuable insights can inform instruction and help educators ensure that students become informed consumers and producers of digital content.
Explore additional resources about Search Coach on the Getting Started with Search Coach support page.