Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, on-site Incident Commander (IC) practical training and examinations in Sweden were canceled as of March 2020. The graduation of one IC class was, however, conducted through Remote Virtual Simulation (RVS), the first such examination to our current knowledge. This paper presents the necessary enablers for setting up RVS and its influence on cognitive aspects of assessing practical competences. Data were gathered through observations, questionnaires, and interviews from students and instructors, using action-case research methodology. The results show the potential of RVS for supporting higher cognitive processes, such as recognition, comprehension, problem solving, decision making, and allowed students to demonstrate whether they had achieved the required learning objectives. Other reported benefits were the value of not gathering people (imposed by the pandemic), experiencing new, challenging incident scenarios, increased motivation for applying RVS based training both for students and instructors, and reduced traveling (corresponding to 15,400 km for a class). While further research is needed for defining how to integrate RVS in practical training and assessment for IC education and for increased generalizability, this research pinpoints current benefits and limitations, in relation to the cognitive aspects and in comparison, to previous examination formats.
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