Monday, June 22, 2015

Active Learning Activities - Tom Sulzer, Information Systems

Professor Tom Sulzer, Department of Information Systems, shares his active learning activity focused on simulations:

Setting: Simulation activity utilizing pod groups (8-10 pods with 4 students per pod)

Setup for the activity: To prepare the students for this activity I had to help them install an SAP client piece of software. In addition, we talked about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in business and had a reading assignment associated with ERP to better help them understand what it is that ERP is about.

How the activity unfolded in the classroom: Part of the SAP curriculum is a "Distribution Game" which allows students to role play being the managers of a company that distributes water. The simulation typically lasts 3 classes and allows the students to gain experience using a real ERP system.

  • The first day, students are allowed to modify their product's price and marketing expenditures to get their products to be purchased by a simulated market. Note the market that the simulation tries to simulate is Retail Stores in Germany which is divided up into 3 regions: North, South and West.
  • In the second session, students are allowed to replenish their inventory once as well as set their product's price and amount of marketing as they did the first day.
  • In the third session, students build on what they were able to do in the previous days by having unlimited replenishment capability as well as the ability to forecast and select specific replenishment amounts. Note they still are setting price and marketing expenses as well.

After the activity: After each session, we summarized what occurred and allowed the students to share experiences, good and bad. The intent is to help them appreciate, in a safe setting, some of the real-world types of decisions that managers struggle with. While it is in a contrived scenario, the tools they use and their reactions are very close to reality.

Additional comments from instructor: "I believe that the simulation is able to drive home the use of ERP systems and allows them to get hands on experience with an actual piece of software they will potentially see in a real work environment setting."

Tip provided by: Tom Sulzer

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