Queuing Theory is included in many introductory Operations Management courses and plays an important part in a company minimizing costs and/or improving customer satisfaction. However, the theory tends to be rather dry and the math can be complex and abstract. As a result, learners often struggle to get a good understanding of Queuing Theory and how it can be applied in real-world contexts.
Solution Part 1: QueueSim
QueueSim is a web application developed with Flash Builder, Photoshop, and InDesign that runs on desktop computers, iPads, and Android Tablets. QueueSim simulates one or more queues for one or more service stations. The graphics in the animation are meant to roughly represent queuing in an Emergency Room. The animated queue and real-time chart are intended to help students get a visceral understanding of queuing, to really see and feel the effects of queues while allowing them to adjust a wide range of parameters to explore different queuing scenarios and how they might better manage these scenarios for better results.
Solution Part 2: K-Blocks
Simply asking the learners to go play around with QueueSim would not have been effective in drawing out key takeaways, so a set of structured questions was developed in K-Blocks to guide the exploration in QueueSim.
K-Blocks is a full-featured Learner Management System created with Flash Builder, Flash Professional, Illustrator, InDesign, and DreamWeaver. K-Blocks enables instructors to quickly create a structured course with a variety of media and question types. The administrator’s app allows for viewing learner responses in both tabular and graphical display to quickly look for any patterns in responses across the class that could merit further discussion for in-class time.
For the Queuing Theory unit, three modules were developed. The first presented some basic multiple choice and short answer questions to explore learner intuitions about queues. The questions presented a histogram of all learner responses so the learners can see how their responses align with other learners in the course. Except for one question on calculating the utilization of a service station, “correct” answers were not offered in order to encourage a feeling of exploration and curiosity.
Learners began using QueueSim in conjunction with K-Blocks in the last two modules of the Queuing Theory unit. The questions in these modules presented instructions on what to do in QueueSim using the presets and then asked a question about what was observed. After responding, a list of all other learner responses to the question was displayed. The learner could reply to any of the responses or give a thumbs up to responses they found helpful or interesting. K-Blocks draws learners into a crowd sourced learning environment around QueueSim, resulting in a rich, multi-perspective understanding of queuing.
QueueSim URL = http://www.bizsimz.com/queuesim/
K-Blocks URL = http://www.kblocks.com/app/
K-Blocks Sign In Info:
K-Blocks ID = 8
K-Blocks Password = adobe
User Email = email@example.com
User Password = demo1
Or click Register and enter your email and password (Student ID is not required)