“Welcome to the Enrichment Center”

Portal is one of my favorite games of all time, not just for its witty dialog or great graphics (which it has both), but also for its physics-defying puzzles that genuinely make you think to solve. Valve (the studio behind Portal), is taking this mentality to a new level, and offering Portal for free (through 9/20/11, so act fast!) as part of their “Learn with Portals” campaign to increase awareness of video games in classroom. Check it out here.

For those who haven’t seen Portal in action, here is a short gameplay video:

I think this is a great step ahead for video games as an emerging educational technology. Valve puts their heart and soul into any of their work, and I hope they follow suit with this campaign. I sent an email to Valve’s representives for the ‘Learn with Portals’ campaign, and will keep everyone updated of any news.\

*Side effect of using this game in your classroom? Your students may develop a biting sense of sarcasm, as well as a new interest in science. As evidenced in this collection of quotes from Portal 2.

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4 responses to ““Welcome to the Enrichment Center”

  1. Leigh Zeitz (@zeitz) (@zeitz) September 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Portal is an interesting game. How do you think that it can be used in education?
    I was quite impressed when I saw that they are working together with the US Department of Education http://www.geekwire.com/2011/portal-in-classroom

    Did you find out how we can get it free?

    I look forward to your future postings.

    Z

    • asmith1106 September 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm

      One of the biggest things I see being taught through Portal is creative problem solving. One of the biggest things with Portal is being able to “think outside the box”, and that could definitely prime students for a good discussion of any science topic. It also would help students improve spatial reasoning, since Portal allows the player to do just wicked things with the laws of physics. I feel as though I need another playthrough to really analyze the game from a teaching standpoint!

      The link to download Portal for free is here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/400/ You will need to download and install Steam, which is more or less iTunes for games, and the game should download inside that program!

  2. Aric Folden (@aric_folden) September 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I wonder how many students will associate the formulas for gravity, and velocity with “Speedy thing go in, speedy thing go out”? This game does have some potential for instruction, and flexing the creative problem solving skills. What would really be an interesting thing to see is if a teacher challenges the students to create their own levels, do the math/science/physics behind their level, and then open it up to the rest of the class to try and beat.

    • asmith1106 September 24, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Isn’t that the basest explanation of gravity and velocity though? I think that would be great for introducing the concepts to students, before throwing the mathematical formulas at students.
      As for letting students create their own levels and challenge their peers, I think that is one of the ideas that Valve is working towards, as shown in this video . Trying to think like a teacher for that potential lesson; I would see giving students a checklist of different science/physics concepts that students would need to include in the level, then having students finally showcase their level to the class and explain the concepts and how/why they included them. What do you think?

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