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students are grouped in teams and given 30 minutes to manually design the routes to deliver the products to all stores without violating the truck-capacity constraints. After this, each team must provide a set of routes. Our VRP webpage allows checking the feasibility and cost of the routes proposed by all groups. It is not rare to find groups unable to find a feasible solution within 30 minutes. Students recognize the need for finding some kind of methodology to approach this type of problems as they can imagine the difficul- ty of solving a real problem instance e.g., a company having to distribute goods to hundreds of stores. In the second lecture, the VRP is described and formulated. Students now know the complexity of the problem and its optimal resolution. To cope with that, we explain that there exist heuristic methods that can find relatively good solutions in little time. This is where we describe the CWS heuristic, and use it to solve an even smaller example with 8 customers. The webpage we developed has also a section showing a step-by-step application of the algorithm. To conclude the class, we solve the initial case with 20 stores altogether using the webpage again. The objective of this simulation game is twofold. On one hand, students learn and apply one of the most used heuristics in vehicle routing problems. On the other, they realize how important the use of ad- vanced analytical tools is for decision making. These tools, or what is known as Business Analytics, are the core of most information systems that companies use. The game had a good acceptance among the students. Putting them in a situation that could be faced by a real company, and challenging them to re- solve it in 30 minutes was an excellent way to motivate the problem. These types of hands-on experiences work really well in a class. It is a dynamic and interactive activity that breaks the monotony of regular lectures. In addition, it usually makes an impact on the participants, becoming what they remember the most from a course. 3612
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Grasas, Juan, and Ramalhinho Figure 1: Web-based VRP tool ( ). 4 TEACHING SIMULATION ONLINE AT UOC 4.1 Context The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is a fully online university with headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. It was founded in 1995 by the Catalan Government with the mission of “providing people with lifelong learning and education through intensive use of information and communication technologies”. According to official data, UOC offers educational services over the Internet to more than 50,000 stu- dents, distributed in several undergraduate and graduate programs. UOC students belong to different parts of the world, but they are mainly located in Spain and South America. About 60% of UOC undergraduate students are adult students (over 30 years old) that typically combine their professional activity and/or family responsibilities with their academic duties. Educational services are delivered by a team composed of more than 2,200 instructors
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