The Patatas – An Education Solutions Consultancy


Starlink, e-learning and the quest for worldwide connectivity today

A world without Internet?

For most of us with the ability to so freely search, scroll and scan, Internet access is simply an unspoken normalcy of the way our lives function – how we think, how we communicate, how we learn.

But with the world’s information so readily at our fingertips, it’s sometimes a stretch to remember that not everywhere in the world has that same immediate, fuss-free access to the Internet. Africa, in particular, faces limitations to Internet access due to its abundance of rural and remote areas. That’s where Space X’s Starlink aims to change the game. 

starlink
Source: https://matrixest.com/en/services/english-internet-connectivity/

Meet Starlink

Making bounds in the quest to provide high-speed Internet access worldwide, SpaceX’s Starlink is the Internet service provider to watch in 2024. Forget Elon Musk’s confusing shenanigans on Twitter (oh sorry, X still doesn’t come to mind instantly), this is SpaceX’s triumph, boldly touted to be the “world’s most advanced internet system”.

Starlink works by relying on its network of nearly 4,000 low-earth orbit satellites to relay signals between one another and to users – this connectivity strategy allows a fast and stable internet service, a previously unfeasible reality for users in remote areas.

starlink
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlink

Throughout 2023, Starlink made considerable headway in expanding its access into Africa. Currently, 8 African countries, including Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria, have access to this high-speed internet service. Beyond the obvious benefits of increased connectivity, this has massive implications for education in Africa. 

Digital education for the modern world

It’s no surprise that education strategies have been shifting dramatically in the modern Internet era, this only further established as the norm in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the world has emerged out of this environment, it is undeniable that this shift changed modern education for the foreseeable future. Digital learning has risen to the forefront of pedagogy, allowing distance learning, virtual conferencing and other online tools to play a huge part in a modern student’s education. There is an overwhelming and ever-increasing amount of resources for everything there is to learn, often even for free! Of course, the availability of all this material is highly contingent on one thing: the learner’s access to the internet.

With the advent of a service provider like Starlink, remote areas that were previously isolated from this hub of learning are now able to join the digital education revolution. This is a monumental development for the world as we know it – greater Internet connectivity fosters greater human connectivity.

starlink for education
Source: https://theconversation.com/online-learning-platforms-arent-enough-lecturers-need-the-right-technical-skills-199310

It’s no surprise that education strategies have been shifting dramatically in the modern Internet era, this only further established as the norm in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the world has emerged out of this environment, it is undeniable that this shift changed modern education for the foreseeable future. Digital learning has risen to the forefront of pedagogy, allowing distance learning, virtual conferencing and other online tools to play a huge part in a modern student’s education. There is an overwhelming and ever-increasing amount of resources for everything there is to learn, often even for free! Of course, the availability of all this material is highly contingent on one thing: the learner’s access to the internet.

With the advent of a service provider like Starlink, remote areas that were previously isolated from this hub of learning are now able to join the digital education revolution. This is a monumental development for the world as we know it – greater Internet connectivity fosters greater human connectivity.

Starlink: high-speed, high cost

africa starlink
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-rural-context-in-West-Africa-without-electricity-or-internet-infrastructure_fig1_338299362

However, all these perks surely come with a premium. It’s no surprise that high-speed Internet is also high-cost Internet. Nigerians using Starlink would have to afford an installation fee of N276,000 (US$599) as well as N198,000 (US$43) per month to cover the recurring subscription fees.

Starlink is also not yet available throughout the entire African continent – due to local regulations in South Africa, SpaceX has not been able to procure an official licence to operate in the region. Due to this, South Africans have been using a backdoor method to access Starlink, but they pay an even higher cost: R15000 (US$818) for installation of the kit and R1799 (US$97) for the monthly subscription. If only the rich are able to afford Internet access, and from there a quality education, this only perpetuates the poverty cycle, isolating those who cannot afford this access.

Bringing education to everyone

casestudy - an alternative to starlink
Source: https://www.potatoproductions.com/2020/03/29/introducing-casestudy/

This is where Patatas’ CaseStudy comes in. A 100% digital offline hardware device that operates via INTRA-NET, CaseStudy is Patatas’ tool to bring education to everyone. This is a modern and accessible solution to bridge the digital divide, created intentionally to serve last-mile schools in rural communities, already available and accessible anywhere in the world. Where Starlink requires high recurring subscription fees, CaseStudy is a one-time system purchase starting from costs as low as US$500, with no further payments required after setup.

Patatas recently developed a learning management system (LMS) that works completely offline with our proprietary “computer brain” system called Potato Pi. This is a fantastic help for teachers and educators wanting to track and manage student progress, and disseminate materials directly to their phones. The scaled down LMS eliminates lag, facilitating an environment of uninterrupted learning for students and teachers.

CaseStudy’s INTRA-NET operating system also allows anyone to share videos, documents and audio without requiring constant connectivity to any internet service provider.

It may sound like CaseStudy is something out of the future, but it’s already fully established and benefitting so many communities. With a dedicated support team, friendly UI/UX for all users and an easy onboarding process, CaseStudy is the perfect educational partner for every community. Users need not fret about having the technical knowhow to operate CaseStudy, and can focus simply on teaching to the best of their ability.

A world with Internet

Unhindered internet connectivity for the entire world may not be the affordable or accessible reality anytime soon, but the small steps forward are what make a difference. What remains constant is the effect that education has to grow, transform and empower the people who have it. Internet or not, this opportunity is something that everyone should have. Feel free to contact the Patatas if you would like to explore opportunities to bring the CaseStudy into the communities that need it!

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