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Enhancing the impact of online simulations through blended learning: A critical incident approach

Jonathan Lean (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)
Jonathan Moizer (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)
Robert Newbery (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 8 April 2014



The purpose of this paper is to describe an approach for utilising a critical incident method within the context of an online business simulation game in order to provide an effective framework for reflective learning.


The paper presents a review of pertinent literature to place the critical incident technique within the novel context of simulation gaming. Through presenting a case study of practice, it goes on to describe a blended learning approach that combines online simulation with post-simulation reflection based on the critical incident method. An action research approach is adopted as a framework for reflection on practice.


From a conceptual perspective, there are a number of potential benefits to employing a critical incident approach combined with simulation gaming. The ability of educators to compress time frames and manage the introduction of critical incidents allows students to learn in a way that would not be possible in the real world. Furthermore, carefully designed post-simulation debriefing, structured around a critical incident framework, has the potential to enhance the learning impact of online simulation.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited in that a single case study context is described. Further evaluation research is required to fully assess the benefits of the approach adopted.


The study explores the use of the critical incident approach within the novel context of online simulation gaming. It provides educators with a blended learning method that can be employed to enhance the impact of e-learning through structured reflection.



Lean, J., Moizer, J. and Newbery, R. (2014), "Enhancing the impact of online simulations through blended learning: A critical incident approach", Education + Training, Vol. 56 No. 2/3, pp. 208-218.



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