To further enhance information literacy, educators will also soon be able to use a companion app called Search Progress. The tool gives educators insights on student progress and a streamlined way to create and review assignments where students show their work. Instead of seeing an opaque, static bibliography, educators will have transparency into the research process itself — how students are finding sources, why they choose particular sources — to help teach critical thinking skills.
Popescu is one of hundreds of teachers, librarians and media literacy experts from around the world who helped shape the educational Search apps with their feedback. Many expressed the need for improved literacy tools during a time of information overload.
“Search Coach and Search Progress empower students to think critically, search with confidence and build stronger information literacy skills,” says Paige Johnson, Microsoft vice president of Education Marketing. “The tools are part of our commitment to help all students develop skills that prepare them for their future.”
Search Coach and Search Progress are part of Microsoft’s Learning Accelerators, a new category of tools to support learning in information literacy, math, reading, speaking and other essential academic skills. The tools enable personalized instruction, self-directed learning opportunities, real-time coaching and actionable insights in a single, efficient platform.
Popescu finds Search Coach’s filters helpful for integrating research concepts like domains and parameters in lessons on marine organisms and climate change. The app, which blocks adult content, provides a secure place for her students to practice skills applicable to any research project. Integration of ratings by NewsGuard — a tool created by journalists to rate the credibility and transparency of thousands of websites — helps students learn how to evaluate information.
Popescu is looking forward to using Search Coach’s insights, which include being able to see how many searches a student did and which filters they used. She sees value in insights for spot-checking and supporting students who are struggling to find credible information.
“Taking the time to ask, ‘Where was the source generated? Can I find other articles that corroborate it?’ and critically thinking about what you’re reading is a basic life skill,” she says.
For Amber Peterson, a teacher and librarian at the nearby International Community School in Kirkland, Search Coach is an efficient way to scaffold lessons on information literacy. The app’s guided tools and educator controls dovetail nicely with her lessons on search queries, fact-checking and assessing for bias.