The Patatas – An Education Solutions Consultancy

Does education have to be so expensive?

Cost, of course

It is a truth universally acknowledged that education can get really, really expensive. But beyond the general cultural tropes of big college loans and staggering student debt, it’s student textbooks that stealthily contribute to the exorbitant cost of an education today. A simple google search about “expensive textbooks” leads one to a volley of complaints, frustrations and of course, memes:

A hand in a glass bottom labelled education with coins inside.
Source: https://imageio.forbes.com/specials-images/imageserve/5f4c259498d6f14cf6d8eea1/Coins-and-banknote-in-a-glass-jar-placed-on-the-textbook-/960x0.jpg?format=jpg&width=960
meme on someone stealing books
Source: https://www.instagram.com/memesinyourdms/p/CsD53WEOe6K/

A study conducted in 2019 by librarians at Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg College shed light on the amount of money students needed to spend to afford their course material. The findings showed students spending an average of $285 on textbooks in a year. However, as high as this number is, it doesn’t even accurately reflect the actual required cost! Some students in the study opted not to purchase any textbooks because of the high cost, which of course then affected their academic performance, a repercussion they simply could not afford to prevent. 

 

If this struggle is the familiar reality in developed countries, think about how much more rural communities feel the pinch. Education in itself is already a luxury. If quality education is gatekept by the unaffordability of materials available to students, this entrenches the communities in the poverty cycle, unable to obtain the education they need to break free. They can’t even make memes about it. 

Where open meets online education

For developed countries, the answer already exists and is in an implementation process of sorts. Mass digitisation has risen to the forefront in recent history, and education is no exception. The Open Education Network (OEN) provides open educational resources (OER) by partnering with other teaching institutions to make material accessible in a “global open education ecosystem”. This opens up an online library of educational resources, removing the necessity of purchasing textbooks. 

 

So far, it has had massive results for students. In order to counter the textbook struggles their students were facing, the Gettysburg College librarians joined the OEN in 2023 – and in just one year, saved a total of $300,000 in course material costs. With this success in tow, they are also working on changing the mindsets of professors who do not take costs into consideration when posting course material requirements and encouraging faculties to tap on open educational resources to provide and source course material. 

Bringing the digital education to the rural

a group of indian ladies and children surrounding a laptop
Source: https://opengovasia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Article_Samaya-March-182-1.jpg

But is this also a viable solution for rural communities? Researchers in Honduras, a low middle-income community, conducted a study in 2013 to find out what effect laptops would have on student learning outcomes as compared to textbooks. While some studies had previously expressed concerns about the distraction potential of laptop-based education, this study found that laptops did not affect student learning outcomes, and were thus viable as a cost-effective replacement for textbooks. Laptop use also enhanced students’ digital skills, a valuable asset in the increasingly digital age. 

 

This is definitely a huge step for increased education reach in these communities; however, laptops themselves are still a high-cost commodity, with not every school having the resource to provide each of their students with their own laptop. There is also the issue of poor internet connectivity in these areas, such that even ownership of a device might not guarantee consistent access to online resources.

Where open meets offline

potato pi with casestudy
our proprietary school in a box offline system

But that’s where the Patatas’ CaseStudy comes in. A ‘school-in-a-box’ solution not dependent on internet or power, CaseStudy is a digital content management system created specifically to bring education to low-income communities. CaseStudy comes equipped with its own digital library of resources, eliminating the need to rely on textbooks or internet connectivity to access educational material. 

LMS start page
100% offline Learning Management System
casestudy in a shed
You can have class without internet and power with CaseStudy

While laptops are expensive and require quantity to be useful in a classroom setting, CaseStudy is the perfect companion for the classroom. One single CaseStudy is around the price of an average laptop and can serve up to 20 devices within a 30-50 metre range, instantly setting the standard in cost-effective digital education. It even remains operable in the most remote locations, with a shockproof and waterproof design built to last and function well in harsh conditions.

Learning Management System
Teachers can add their own pdfs, videos and audio files for students to download

CaseStudy is also remarkably simple to operate, requiring little to no technical prowess to set up. It also boasts a scaled down learning management system (LMS), reducing lag and providing the full efficiency of the digital learning experience, even while fully offline. With its remarkably user-friendly interface and dedicated support system, CaseStudy lends itself to users who may not be so well-versed in technology, reducing the usual stress associated with tech’s steep learning curve. 

Sparing no expense for accessible education

In an ideal world, cost should not have to factor into an individual’s opportunity for education. But given our current world’s limitations, the best we can do is spare no expense in thinking out of the box, bridging divides and doing our part to bring open education to the world.

If this is something you’re passionate about as well, why not reach out to the Patatas today? Find out more about CaseStudy and how you could be involved in bringing accessible education to rural communities. The Patatas team is always eager to begin new partnerships with people and organisations who share the same vision, and is committed to providing sufficient support along the way. Feel free to contact us here!

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