Combining Blended Learning with Role Play in an Online Simulation of the Bletchley Park Enigma Codebreakers in WWII

  • Adam J. Wootton Keele University
  • Jeff T. Neat Keele University


The foundation year programme at this English university prepares Mathematics and Computer Science students for their degree with a range of different subject-specific modules. One of these (Logic, Codes and Cryptography) introduces students to the concepts of mathematical logic, set theory, permutations and cryptography. Our approach delivers what might typically be a complex and dry topic by instead immersing students in an online role play simulation. By using discrete online videos, research notes, national archive records, and online applications, students follow the path of a WWII Enigma machine encoded message from the point of its creation through to the application of cryptographical techniques at Bletchley Park and analysis into ULTRA Intelligence. These resources are linked together with formative and summative assessment using the LearningPool e-learning platform and MS Forms, combining blended learning with role play. As the module progresses, skills are developed by placing the students in the position of operators at various stages of the decryption process, such as interceptors, traffic analysts and hut 6 crib identifiers. The onus is placed on the students to develop their understanding with the support of scaffolded learning. This self-direction is encouraged by the blended learning approach: LearningPool synthesises new content with existing online resources, such as Enigma simulators and living history. As such, students are encouraged to explore and discover more complex resources for themselves, fostering deeper learning and helping students to hone the study skills that they will use throughout their studies and beyond.


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