Digital Decisions

Digital Decisions: Understanding and supporting key choices in online and blended teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa


Analysing decision making by staff in African higher education institutions as they move to greater use of online and digital technologies in their teaching.


The Digital Decisions project analysed how educators in higher education (HE) institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa make decisions at the conflux of pedagogy, technology and student support, as they navigate the pivot to online and blended learning.

This builds on the Pathways for Learning project, also in collaboration with the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), which took place in July-October 2020 and provided free professional development in online learning to over 500 tertiary educators in Sub Saharan Africa.

The project objectives have been to:

  • Develop richer understanding of the challenges educators and institutions are facing as they move their teaching into blended and fully online models.
  • Identify the common types of decisions that need to be made by SSA HE lecturers in response to these challenges.
  • Explore the potential impacts on teaching and learning of different choices in these common decisions.
  • Identify good practices that can be drawn from SSA approaches, Open University approaches, and literature.
  • Co-create and disseminate a resource that can inform decision-making in common scenarios for SSA HE educators and professional staff.
  • To achieve this, the project team gathered short narratives of decision making from staff in different roles across the four partner institutions, and analysed these using an activity theory framework to understand the decisions made and the decision making process in each case. Workshops were held to augment this understanding and to co-design a professional development resource for educators based on the findings.

This project is also aligned to the Professional and Digital Learning research programmes in IET.

The role of IET

IET has led the project and directed the methodological approach taken. We have managed the research in collaboration with ACDE and co-investigators in each of the four institutions. Within the Open University, we have collaborated with the International Development Office (IDO) to plan the work and develop the collaboration across the four partner countries.


The key outputs from the project to date are Making Digital Decisions, a co-created professional development resource, and a Project Report detailing the findings of the research. 

We are currently planning dissemination activities based around these outputs to maximise the impact of these in collaboration with our partners.

Research programmes


  • British Council


  • African Council for Distance Education (ACDE)
  • Laweh Open University College, Ghana
  • Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • National Open University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  • University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa