Steam for Schools brings Portal to the classroom

This year’s Games for Change festival has provided Valve with the perfect venue to announce its next big push into edutainment. The simply-titled Steam for Schools program features a “limited version” of the company’s digital distribution platform, complete with a copy of Portal 2, its level editor and a workshop to help host and organise user-created levels.

Teach with Portals

Teach with Portals

Leslie Redd from Valve spoke to Games for Change attendees:

We have a limited version of Steam, which is called ‘Steam for Schools.’ And what we’re doing is asking for teachers, after school programs, organizations – anywhere where there’s a student relationship, which includes homeschooling – for them to submit a form to be part of it.

The new program is packed with perks for teachers, and – excitingly – it’ll be free for educators. Steam for Schools is a natural progression from a discussion at last year’s Games for Change, where keynote speaker and Valve boss Gabe Newell stated there was “no difference” between the approach towards education and the approach towards entertainment.

Educators and teachers – who are invited to apply for the summer beta – will be given administrator access, but children taking part in the program will not be able to share their own levels. Redd explains that this “walled garden” is essential for learning – and while the company plans to allow more openness and a greater level of access, the needs of the child will be kept as a top priority.

Valve is, from early reports, taking this plunge alone, without receiving any outside grants or funding for Steam for Schools. That said, there have been “initial talks” with other publishers, so the playing field may change – but for now, the Seattle-based company is free to bask in its own public relations coup.

Want more information? Want to be a part of this? Head to Valve‘s brand new Teach with Portals website to check it all out – and pop back over summer, the site’s set to expand in the coming months as more people participate in the beta.

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