Valve has unveiled a new game-based initiative it hopes will make learning more interesting.
According to its new website, the developer has collaborated with educators to develop game-related teaching tools that revolve around science, technology, engineering, and math education.
The result is Teach With Portals, a package that provides education institutions with a free copy of the company’s acclaimed Portal 2 game, along with editing tools and lesson plans revolving around concepts within the game itself.
The package is also available to those who are home-schooling their children, and provides forums so users may exchange lessons and experiences online.
“Based on Valve’s technology, the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker takes place in an environment with realistic physics – a playground rich with opportunities for educational fun,” states the website.
“The educational version of our Puzzle Maker empowers students and educators to craft unique puzzles, explore worlds, and share custom lesson plans. Teachers can also simply leverage other contributor’s shared lessons, selecting among the best of them to suit their learners’ needs.”
Among the dozen or so Valve-endorsed lesson plans currently available are sections on parabolas, terminal velocity, perspective, and the conservation of momentum, all of which use the game to illustrate and reinforce the ideas.
"The interesting thing about Portal 2 is it doesn't sort of fit the traditional simplistic model of what a game is,” said Valve president and co-founder Gabe Newell at a recent keynote.
“It's not a collection of weapons. It's not a collection of monsters. It's really about science. It's about spatial reasoning, it's about learning physics, it's about problem solving. And often, during the course of the game, you're going to be solving problems with somebody else. The social model inside of it is collaborative and not competitive."
The free Portal 2 kit is delivered to educators via a stripped-down version of Valve’s game delivery service, Steam .
"All functionality that isn’t core to the education experience has been disabled in this special version of Steam,” says the site.
Valve has not received any funding or grants for the program.
The beta version of Teach With Portals is available now.