Dan McDowell left a comment on my looking for a wiki post the other day and pointed to his use of a wiki to build a “branching simulation” for his students’ study of the Holocaust. At first I didn’t really get it, but after a couple of trips back to look at it, it’s starting to sink in. What a great idea.

First, groups of students develop the outlines of a family living through the Holocaust based on historical and geographical research. Then, each group sets up a number of choices that the family must make, annotates each choice with pros and cons, and asks the reader to make one of the choices to see what happens. For instance, a Jewish family may at first have the choice of trying to run or following the Nazi instructions to report to a camp. Depending on the choice you make, you’re faced with another decision, and as the reader makes these choices, the narrative of the family is written.

The process for developing this simulation demands some fairly complex thinking and planning, and if you’re at all interested in this project take some time to read through it. But what a great use of a wiki, where page creation is easy and creating a webbed narrative like this can be a really fascinating experience.

Any other great uses of wikis in the classroom out there?