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Education Math Software Games Technology

Valve Unveils Steam For Schools, Portal In the Classroom 83

Posted by timothy
from the lollipop-chainsaw-is-home-ec-and-shop dept.
tekgoblin writes "Well this is pretty awesome, Valve has made an entrance into the education sector. They plan to release a new version of Steam for education uses in schools. Valve will call this service Steam for Schools, an education version of the Steam client that allows administrators to limit what its users can access. The idea of Steam for Schools is to use the platform as a teaching aid. Valve has already put together a number of educational lesson plans for using Portal 2 and its level editor to teach math and physics."
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Valve Unveils Steam For Schools, Portal In the Classroom

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  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:27PM (#40400627) Homepage
    We would like to thank your parents for all signing the Test Subject Waiver. Please assemble in the gymnasium for your mandatory uniform assignment, before boarding the Aperture Science Facility Field Trip Bus.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't a better game for kids be a shooter, where you have to quick knife the correct answer to gain points? Also FIRST

  • wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:36PM (#40400789)

    ...even public schools got Steam before Linux.

    • by BronsCon (927697)
      Did the schools get Steam before they got Linux, or did they get Steam before Lunix did?
      • by Airballp (1077091)
        Yes.
  • Portal in the classroom? Now that's one education game that doesn't disappoint at every turn!

    You have died of Thermal Discouragement Beam.

  • by geekd (14774) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:45PM (#40400937) Homepage

    The linked article is lean on details. Is this for "educational" games? Or regular games? Or for educational software that is not games?

    I totally do not get what a teacher would use Steam int he classroom for. Anyone have any ideas? I've been out of school for a long time, so maybe I'm just missing something.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are lots of games that can be adapted to teaching something. Portal can help illustrate physics concepts, Universe Sandbox can illustrate astrophysics concepts, Civilization can help illustrate (more or less) how world events can shape history, SpaceChem can show how chemistry works... kind of. Even games like Dungeon Defenders can teach teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. There are probably others, but, really, it's all how you apply them to what you're going to teach anyway.

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        Portal's level editor can be used to implement binary logic, so that has some educational value. I saw somebody implement a 4-bit adder using lasers and moving platforms, and I managed to do one using just lasers and receptors, so there's a lot of flexibility there. My stuff was pretty messy and compact, but I'm pretty sure you could do it up in a more illustrative manner.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      This is just a way for Valve to expand their market. This is not a benevolent action of a benevolent company. It's little different than when Apple was giving cheap Apple IIs to elementary schools that ended up being unused. Valve wants to be the sole power in the digital software distribution for games by being only slightly less evil than the competition. Being in the schools is just another way to let their fan army claim that they're the good guys.

    • It doesn't have to be just games that it distributes.

      Even the normal Steam client lets you view embedded video, or download video as its own "store" item. Also, since a game is just another type of program, you could deliver other applications as well, such as the training simulators used in MCSE books, custom testing programs that some classes insist on using, editor applications such as Notepad++, GIMP, etc.

      I think the biggest benefit of this would be giving the teachers a trusted software repositor
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I think the biggest benefit of this would be giving the teachers a trusted software repository where they can tell their students to just go download it through the SteamEDU client, and not have to worry about them going to an impostor site and getting a school computer infected with malware (because obviously nobody knows how to ask for a rebuild of that system from the school's IT dept).

        Actually, I see it as one better - if you need software for a particular class, it can be distributed and licensed prope

    • "Hey kids, there is a computer for each of you in the room. There's a router and some network cable too. Some of the computers won't come on, some won't be able to get on the network. The sound won't work on some. If you can get every one working you can play games for X minutes Y times week."

      I am sure there are developed strictly for education applications that can be put in the mix.....but I learned so much about computers being in pretty much that situation (not in a classroom, and once we got everyone'
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the best goddammit fucking game . Sone a bitch. I love how thay keep everything themed with the portal theme. Their viral marketing. All that shit. I'm playing through both of them again tonight.

  • Because Valve has still not managed to release Steam for Linux.
    With that attitude they should not be allowed into schools.

    • Oh come on, seriously? The vast majority of schools are still using some flavor of Windows. I am as gung-ho about Linux as your average /. reader, but even I can see the benefits of this coming out now rather than waiting for the Linux port (which I am waiting eagerly for). Beyond just that, most large school boards run locked down MS desktops which are centrally managed - you think that's going to change anytime soon?

    • Yeah! I mean nearly all child-facing machines in schools run Linux, so what would even be the point!?

      Right?

      Right?

      Oh.

  • by LordStormes (1749242) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:08PM (#40401447) Homepage Journal

    I've always been convinced that my high school chemistry teacher was real personality used to create GLaDOS.

  • by wramsdel (463149) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:10PM (#40401481)

    "Ms. GlaDOS, I need to go to the bathroom!"
    "Certainly, Chell, it's out the door and right down that chute."

  • by notjustchalk (1743368) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:17PM (#40401599)

    Here's the actual site that Valve has published regarding this particular effort:
    http://www.teachwithportals.com/ [teachwithportals.com]

    A few things not quite clear in TFA:
    1) These are not retail versions of Steam nor Portal 2:
    1a) As mentioned, it is a locked down version of Steam called Steam for Schools. Only one application is available right now:
    1b) A modified version of Portal called Portal 2 Puzzle Maker which takes most of the concepts in the game but makes it more interactable (i.e. here's a room, here's a pallette of tools, here's what you need to figure out or do...) - a game design tool more than a game.
    2) For the teachers among us (me included), they've already collected a number of lesson plans for both Physics and Math curriculums. They're both tending to higher grades (ie 9-12) right now (e.g. parabaloid motion, harmonic oscillation, gravity, spatial geometry/volumes, etc) which makes sense, however, I've only taken a cursory glance as I'm supposed to be marking exams right now... (oops). They're also accepting lesson plans, etc.
    3) It looks like they're aiming to extend lessons into the Chemistry, Game Design, Language Arts, and more categories - color me excited as I'm a Chem teacher!

    It's unfortunate I'm only finding out about this right now as it's pretty close to the end of the school year, but I supposed the summer is a good time to play with it and figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. For those who are already getting steamed re: "they should be buying textbooks, etc", I have to say that computing resources are already in schools and to a large part being wasted on Facebook and flash games for the most part - this is just another tool to enrich courses and make the curriculum come alive. Oh, and for those that would rather us teachers "take our students outside to learn about physics", I challenge you to a) take more than 5 kids outside and try to keep a lesson run coherently with all the sundry distractions and b) try to do it in the middle of winter.

    Kudos to Valve for willing to venture into this territory! Now, let's just get that Linux port finished already okay...? :)

    • Forgot to mention - it's FREE!

    • "...I challenge you to a) take more than 5 kids outside and try to keep a lesson run coherently with all the sundry distractions and b) try to do it in the middle of winter."

      Snowball fight trajectories must be useful for something....

    • by rcuhljr (1132713)
      Glad to see this coming to fruition, The head of this project from Valve was at the future of education panel at PAX east this year and it was quite an interesting presentation. It was pretty annoying that it got shunted into a slightly shorter time slot, this is an incredibly interesting subject area.
    • by AKabral (1056068)
      I hope they include SpaceChem - it's a fantastic puzzle game that many people have thought to liken to teaching chemistry, industrial manufacturing and programming.
    • As a parent and one-time student, I have to wonder about your completely evading the issue of monetization. This is yet another attempt by tech firms to further monetize the education of students. I seriously doubt this will be free.

      I hear near-constant complaints from teachers and their unions that they are not paid enough (and I agree), but c'mon, try and save us a buck, will ya? Getting a 3rd party-middleman involved in the distribution of lesson plans is just ridiculous. They are not claiming to produce

      • And here is what bothers me the most...
        "Valve will call this service Steam for Schools, an education version of the Steam client that allows administrators to limit what its users can access."

        Since when is LIMITING access to information beneficial to learning?

        That is what bothers you the most? You put out this long winded post about how evil it all is, and the fact that Steam for Schools lets the individual school administrators specifically whitelist which applications they want to let their students install/use is what bothers you the most?

        Really?

        • "You put out this long winded post about how evil it all is..."

          Long-winded? Really? That post took me all of two minutes to type and post to Slashdot. How long did it take you to read it?

          And, yes. I do think that limiting what data is available through these course plans is a step backwards, and no, I wasn't talking about games. I was talking about non-teachers (or even simply biased ones) creating courses that our kids would then be subject to. This opens up all sorts of special-interest issues. Imagine th

    • by humanrev (2606607)

      Now, let's just get that Linux port finished already okay

      It's absolutely amazing how many people want to bring a DRM platform to Linux. I know Steam is very popular but it also encourages people to give the keys to access your games with a 3rd-party, and not keep the control with yourself. If something happens to your account/Valve, you're fucked. We should be encouraging places like non-DRM sellers like GOG to have Linux games officially available, as well as encourage things like the Humble Bundles when a

  • does Steam work under firewalls and lock down software that most schools use?

    • YMMV, but as an IT-admin turned teacher, I can tell you in my neck-o-the-woods, the lockdowns are simple AD policies for Windows and a rather crummy 3rd party AV/FW combo. So, it's really just as easy as getting central admin to whitelist a few more executables and IP addresses (which may not even be necessary as I'm fairly sure this is not going to be an "always online" type Steam app). This won't be a problem IT-wise, but without a strong IT person onsite it may become a "convenience" issue (ie. central a

      • well at other schools they did not use AD policies they used stuff like deep freeze and useing that may trigger some kind of drm issues.

        Other places used used 3rd party lock down software that also made app show odd errors do to stuff being locked down to much.

  • Ok, whose bright idea was it to give Portal Guns to the high school kids? The captain of the football team sent one of the chess club members to the hospital by "portal-ing" him down a flight of stairs. In retaliation, the chess club portaled the captain of the football team into an infinite loop. He's been like this for 12 hours straight as we try to figure a way to get him out of it.

    • lol I'd mod you funny but I already posted in here.
      In real life, that'd be a serious conundrum.. if you nudge someone just a little off center, they'd be likely to dislocate their shoulder or break a leg as it hit the edge of the portal at high velocity.. or worse.
      The other thing I've wondered about, what if you could move the portals once they were created? What would happen if you stuck someone in one of these infinite loops, then gradually brought the two portals closer together until they were a
      • by Jeremi (14640)

        In real life, that'd be a serious conundrum.. if you nudge someone just a little off center, they'd be likely to dislocate their shoulder or break a leg as it hit the edge of the portal at high velocity.. or worse.

        It's true, it's a very dangerous situation. these guys [youtube.com] seem to have figured out a solution, however.

        What would happen if you stuck someone in one of these infinite loops, then gradually brought the two portals closer together until they were an inch apart? I imagine you'd wind up with some serious bloody hamburger as body parts were forced to overlap and inhabit the same space simultaneously.

        I think they would be crushed against themselves... yuck :^P

        • I was actually thinking of just that video when I posted my comment. Imagine that in the hands of a high schooler. Like the kind of kids who bullied that bus monitor. *shudders*

  • My kid had a tough time with school this year, he's in fourth grade and sometimes it seems they're trying to teach those kids trig already. He hated school this year with a passion. However, he's a huge fan of portal, so if they used the game to help teach, it should probably make school more interesting and fun.
    Well.. either that, or just ruin Portal for him.
  • Wild Science Arcade can be deleted!

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