I’m Erik Bohjort, psychologist, nudger and (digital) behaviour change enthusiast. Ask Me Anything about behaviour, psychology and tech!

@Leonie Yes, certainly! Seeing how society has been forced to adapt to digital learning platforms and solutions to be able to provide education to children and youths has been quite an eye opener for me and many educators I have been in touch with. It is not an easy transition to make and many educators are witnessing that the new ways of distance and e-teaching are more demanding than classical in class lessons.

This to me points to a need to either better the tools available for educators or completely rethink how education is to be conducted in the future. Perhaps we can, continuing on my idea from my former reply, give the childen more agency in their learning with adaptable digital tools that do not require them or their educators to work within coherent lessons or classes?



That makes sense. Sadly it is just in this period that refugees are often hindered from many things, for example working or even exploring their new surroundings by burocratical hurdles.

Did you experience any of those/know someone who did @Zinstance and how did you/they react to it/deal with it?

@Bohjort @nadia @zinstance. I research the effects of language requirements on refugees and migrants in Germany - specifically the ways in which language-integration programmes (which most newcomers are required to complete) impact their socioeconomic (im)mobility. I have found that while these programmes promise a fast and sustainable route for newcomers to participate in the German economy/society, they in practice significantly delay their mobility and inclusion. Because of this slowing effect, newcomers to Germany experience long periods of waiting, boredom and temporal uncertainty. During the first wave of the pandemic, Germany shifted its language integration courses online through a state-funded, e-learning platform. There was a great deal of optimism at the time around how these programmes might actually make things much easier for newcomers: giving them more flexibility to schedule their work and learning, and accommodating to a range of different learning preferences and abilities. However, I found that for my informants, shifting to e-learning significantly amplified their sense of uncertainty and stuckness: they felt overwhelmed by the platforms and didn’t feel they could navigate the course content without the in-person dynamics of being in a classroom. Above all, it was unclear whether the online exercises counted toward their overall course attendance and if they could finish the course online at all. Though there is so much optimism around e-learning, particularly due to the pandemic, I wonder how much of it is more about bridging the time between rather than expanding and improving existing methods of learning. @Bohjort have you encountered any similar affective/psychological impacts (e.g. feelings of stuckness, impatience, boredom)?


Time seems to be one of the things that come back as a crucial topic in relation to behavioural change, in adults, in children, in technology development.

Would be very interested in learning something about this project you mentioned in reaction to @nadia 's questions regarding time you are working with @Bohjort when it is the time to share it :wink:

1 Like

@MariaEuler brilliant question!

My answer to this can be summed up into one word. Balance.

Now there are effects on learning, motivation and behaviour change that relates to the idea of overcoming hurdles. In psychological terms we speak of effort justification, so we would want to give a learning experience that is percieved as hard to overcome to make the learner feel that they have achieved something worthwile - at the same time we must make sure that the effort needed is not so large as to make the lesson aversive and as such drive away the learner.

Now in more detail, I imagine that easy UX combined with hard lessons is a more beneficial way to go. Such as the effort put in by the learner is dedicated to solving and working with what is to be learn rather than the logistics of finding the right material or struggling with unintuitive UX.

I would love do discuss this more, I have some other examples on how effort affect learning!


1 Like

asyncronos working is also something that is extremle important for everyone working remotely and something where currently a lot of people/organisations can be observed struggeling with changing their behaviour. They just make every former in person meeting into a zoom meeting and it is far from effective.

This connects to our research on remote working:

That would certainly be interesting.

I recognize that the first period, in which it is still uncertain whether they would get a residence permit, is hardly the best time to change. Even when given a permit it’s not clear in which municipality they will be offered housing. They spend their days in refugee locations, having very little outlook on their future.

1 Like

@MariaEuler For good ways to not overuse your digital devices I recommend a few steps:

  1. Plan for when you want to lessen your device usage and perhaps let it conicide with some type of happening that evokes the feeling of a re-start, eg. At the start of next week, new years, at the start of a new job, moving houses etc.
  2. When the re-start happening occurs, do the following:
  3. Set a goal and commit to not using your device more than a set number of minutes or situations per day.
  4. Turn off notifications for everything that is not vital. This is part of the behaviour change technique of removing prompts and triggers.
  5. Make plans for what you can do instead of using your device as the go to source of entertainment/boredom killer.
  6. Allow yourself to fail, we are habitual in our use of our devices, so not perfectly behaving in the way we set out to is completely understandable. So re-commit to your goal even if it is a struggle to reach.

This is not an end all strategy, but ought to give you some idea of processes relating to lessening your habitual device usage.



Speaking of influencing behavior, classrooms have always had daydreamers, slackers, cutups, note passers and all the rest. And teachers to notice.

Now in the virtual learning world there is little if any of that. And it would have to be an invasive tech fix. Teacher not just watching your face on the zoom screen, but can see if you are truly paying attention is something tech could do, and it would influence behavior. But do we want that? And if not that, what, given the ever-shortening time of the attention span?

1 Like

…not to mention all the distractions from learning of a home or public internet setting for a refugee.

@Leonie I see how the feelings evoked by the e-learning platform clearly resulted in negative effects on the participants learning and experience. So I want to applaud your efforts to evaluate and investigate not only test outcomes but also the human experience of partaking in the programme.

I see a few different problems and potential solutions to the case you are presenting.

First the platform is too complex. So efforts must either be put into simplifying the platform, or raising the programme participants capability to use the platform. Perhaps in person lessons on how to use the platform?

Second, I imagine that as a refugee or migrant you can often feel the need for social interaction and support. The lessons before the introduction of the e-learning probably sated this need somewhat especially from the context of meeting others in the same position of being newcomers. As the lessons were removed the problem of isolation and loneliness grows as I imagine there are few other contexts where the newcomers have the chance to meet while having the “excuse” that it is to learn language rather than having to accept that they are meeting others because they are lonely. Perhaps introducing a setting that satisfies the needs while giving the people going an excuse so that they need not come to terms with the fact that they feel lonely. (As loneliness is one of the worst emotional states we as humans can be in.)

Third, as you say - a lot of uncertainty about the long term consequences of partaking and using the e-learning probably resulted in even less usage and attendance. Clarifying this and communicating the consequences during the “How to use the platform”-lessons?

Thank you for your interesting question!



The time will come! :slight_smile:


@rjannah I can see that you are reflecting and have self insight. Unfortunately there is no easy pill to take that can make this change for you. I suggest you go about this change together with people close to you. Ask them if they would be okay with you talking about these goals of personal development that you have set for yourself.

Good luck!


Thank you all for this AMA-session, and all of the interesting questions and discussions - I look forward to continuing our conversations!

I will now wrap up for the night, but I hold the ambition to get back to every single one of you over the course of the next few days.

Again, thank you all who have contributed tonight; @daveed @nadia @johncoate @matteo_uguzzoni @Zinstance @rjannah @Leonie @MariaEuler

All the best,



Thank you for your time and expertise @Bohjort :).

We would be very happy to welcome you back in our community here, in the mentioned linked conversations and of course anything that might interest you anytime. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi @Bohjort, thanks for joingin us for an AMA. Much of how we talk about technology use lately, especially in light of the pandemic and cultural narratives (i.e., The Social Dilemma), seems to focus on behavioral changes. As an expert, what do you see as limitations of how technology companies or popular narratives think and talk about “behavioural science”? And what do you make of these representations?


super, thanks - will do! ping @MariaEuler :slight_smile:

Hi @Bohjort

I totally love synchronicity when it occurs.
Thank you so much for your insight and ideas!

With respect to idea #1, can you point to examples within an e-sports community where the practicioners analyse action that is not at the top level, explain what is going on, and why this is exciting to see?

With respect to idea #2, I immediately see this a game changer. We had not thought as much about the spectator although we have been thinking about curators. I think it would be interesting in live competitions to zoom into what an individual is doing (e.g., watch their thought process evolve as they build artifacts, what they search on) and to zoom out to the high level view of what all the participants are creating. Like having binoculars at a sporting event. I am imagining the high level view being visual and maybe having some stats as well. The zoom out would also be useful for asynchronous competitions.

Another question. What do you think the benefits of having the user submit video explaining their thought process (explaining what they did and why it matters) as well as the knowledge artifacts they create?

Thank you!