Complexity

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

Journal Article

Abstract

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

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