Teaching complexity theory through student construction of a course wiki: The self‐organization of a scale‐free network

Journal Article


Complex systems are fascinating because emergent phenomena are often unpredictable and appear to arise ex nihilo. The other side of this fascination, however, is a certain difficulty in comprehending complex systems, particularly for students. To help students more fully understand emergence and self‐organization, a course on complexity theory was designed to not only be about these two concepts, but itself embody them. The principal design tool was a course wiki. Here, we quantitatively demonstrate that this course wiki self‐organized into a scale‐free network. This is particularly notable given the small size of the network. We conclude by noting a few qualitative examples of emergence, as well as offering recommendations for the future use of wikis in teaching complexity theory. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity 16: 41–48, 2011

Related Topics

Related Publications

Related Content

Site Footer


This website is provided by John Wiley & Sons Limited, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8SQ (Company No: 00641132, VAT No: 376766987)

Published features on are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.