Microsoft has unveiled a new feature, “Search Progress”, for its Microsoft Teams for Education platform. This addition aims to assist students and teachers in tracking research activities for educational projects. The feature is an extension of the previously standalone app, “Search Coach”, which was designed to aid students in formulating better search queries instantly. Now, with the integration of “Search Progress” into Teams Assignments, educators can monitor the advancements students make on substantial school tasks.
“Search Progress” allows educators to create and allocate projects to students within Microsoft Teams. Students can then utilize “Search Coach” to find sources for these assignments. The tool offers real-time coaching to students during online research, guiding them in developing effective search queries and pinpointing credible resources.
When students receive their research tasks, they also access the “Search Coach” app, which provides a mechanism to gather sources for the assignment. The feature saves the student's work as it happens. Upon completion, educators can view the sources students employed for the task, along with any justifications students might have for using those sources.
Customization and User Experience
Upon initiating a “Search Progress” assignment, educators have the flexibility to determine the number of sources students should gather. They can also customize the wording of the per-source explanation and overall reflection prompts. As described in the official announcement, “When a learner opens Search Progress in the ‘My work' section of an assignment, they're presented with a view with Search Coach on the left and a source collection pane on the right. This is where they conduct their research, gather sources, and provide explanations, all in a secure, educational, and distraction-free environment“.
Microsoft has plans to further develop “Search Progress”. Upcoming features will allow comparison of the sources a student uses in an assignment with those of other students. Additionally, students will have the capability to export their “Search Progress” work and access it from any location. The feature is also set to be available on tablets and smartphones in the forthcoming months.
Microsoft has announced a collaboration with the Digital Inquiry Group, a nonprofit organization. This partnership aims to create a new professional development module for “Search Progress” and “Search Coach”, along with free curriculum resources. Dr. Sam Wineburg and Dr. Joel Breakstone, renowned experts in the field, are leading this initiative.