New pathways in challenging times: Learning & Development in a pandemic

Interview with Anna Tebelius Bodin
We are experiencing challenging times. How has the pandemic affected your work as a lecturer and have you found any alternatives?

Yes, it has been a major change for all of us. I have had many assignments cancelled in the past few months, some of which I can do online instead. Today, I record e-lectures from my new studio in the basement and the audience feedback has been great so far. I also give shorter sessions where the I donate all the profits to vulnerable families who have suffered particularly hard from the pandemic. So technology has definitely been a life-saver!

The pandemic also coincided with my new book launch, which gave plenty of time to finalize it and sort out the administration around the pre-sold copies. Now things have started to calm down and the book is selling online.

Do you think the current situation will affect the way we learn and acquire new knowledge?

I think the ongoing pandemic is affecting us in various ways. Some work on the very frontline saving lives, while others may be struggling financially. I think there is no general rule here. We can only hope that the past couple of years have taught us how fragile our everyday life is. As a result, some might want to get better equipped through education, which, in turn, would give increased career mobility.

The human brain has always been programmed for survival and one of the best ways to succeed is through predicting the future. The more we learn and the better the predictions we make, the higher are the chances of survival. That is our motivation to learn. It is still too early to predict, but through continuous learning, we will become better equipped for future alternative events. I think the less we take for granted, the bigger the need for knowledge. Depending on how long the pandemic will last, digital interaction might become the new normal - even when it is safe to meet in person again.

You recently launched a book. What is it about and why is it relevant?

The analog brain in a digital era (original title in Swedish Den analoga hjärnan i den digitala tillvaron) is, as the title suggests, a book about how the brain works. But also about achieving success and wellbeing in life. I could never have imagined today’s situation back when I was writing the book, but I now realize that the timing is perfect.

At the moment we are surrounded by cortisol-triggers, such as worrying news in the media. Cortisol is our stress hormone. At the same time, we have seen lots of compassion as we try to support each other through the difficult times. This stimulates the feel-good hormone oxytocin. The book is a tool to help you understand what happens in your brain in various situations.

I hope this book will help people make conscious decisions based on a stronger understanding of our brain and how it affects us.

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