KM course description

I am in the final stages of building my course syllabus.  There are far too many options to cover, but this should be a good combination of the theory that the students have been picking up in other courses and the more "front line" aspects that I've managed.  Here is a semi-finished draft of my course description.  The original course description is online at Northwestern.

The goal of KM II is to introduce students to the wider application of knowledge management principles, especially in the form of technologies that are classified as knowledge management tools. The course will also introduce students to a number of skills that are important to knowledge management and to successful projects in general. As with all "II" courses, students will be expected to draw on the materials they've picked up in other courses as well as in their experiences outside the classroom.

An important theme that will run through the course is the dichotomy between KM projects that are geared towards improving corporate performance and those that help individuals do their work better. We will explore a range to aspects of this dichotomy and see where to use it to advantage and where it can get in the way of successful projects.

I expect this will change as I have a few more conversations, but the class is due to start shortly.  After that, it will be tweaks to the landscape of materials I will cover rather than this description itself.

3 Comment(s)

John Barrett said:

Jack, are you suggesting that every project falls into one category or the other but cannot serve both?

jackvinson Author Profile Page said:

No, many KM projects can fall into both camps. (Maybe "dichotomy" is too strong of a word.) One of the things I want students to carry away from the course is the understanding that a project has camps and that they all need to be addressed in some way or another. This goes beyond building in the "what's in it for me" idea, but it's a good place to start.

Brett Miller said:


You've hit on what I see as one of the key challenges in any KM implementation.

The "dichotomy" between what's good for the organization and what is good for the individual is, unfortunately, all too real. In an ideal world perhaps the two can effectively co-exist, but in the real world there is often a clash. This relates in many ways to the argument of whether knowledge management should be a "top-down" or "bottoms-up" effort. (Of course, the right answer - if there is such a thing - is that it should be both ;-).

I think a key point that the discussion of this dichotomy can help address is the fact that, contrary to what some process and software vendors may try to tell us, one size does not fit all. Every solution has good points and bad points, and blindly applying a solution to every problem will likely cause more trouble in the long run than will be solved.

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