Let’s face it--edutainment efforts so far with videogames have been pretty lackluster. All the games that actually attempt to teach you something aren’t fun and all the fun ones don’t really teach you anything—Oregon Trail being the only exception.
Valve’s hoping to inject a little fun into education with “Steam for Schools.”
Essentially, “Steam for Schools” provides educators with a “limited” type of Steam, only allowing access to the Portal 2 level editor and its workshop to allow the sharing of different user-generated levels. However, admin status will only be given to educators, meaning that kids will be unable to share with each other.
Valve’s hope is that students will be able to create puzzles within a virtual realm of realistic physics, which will teach them physics and math in an “out of the box” approach.
Lesson plans are already provided on the newly launched Teach with Portals website. Currently, “Steam for Schools” is still in beta and will continue to be for the rest of summer. However, all educators are encouraged to apply for beta access, which can be done from the same site.
I was never a fan of math or physics past middle school, but I think I’d give it another chance if I got to play Portal 2 in the process, which is exactly the “learning is fun” attitude that might give kids an extra boost to learn.