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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Hilary Mclellan
LIS 529
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Information Resources, Services, and Collections

Introduction to innovation and specialized topics in information resources, services, and collections. Prerequisite: LIS 500, LIS 520.

Class description

Course Overview This online course will examine competitive intelligence, the use of business intelligence to promote one's competitive position in the marketplace. Competitive intelligence can be used to detect competitive threats, to eliminate or lessen surprises in the marketplace, to enhance competitive advantage by lessening reaction time, and to find new opportunities. Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the process by which information is collected and transformed into valuable intelligence for use in tactical and strategic business decisions. CI is also the product of that process. This course will examine the basic issues involved in competitive intelligence, including how to gather CI, basic tools and strategies, strategic thinking for CI, and analyzing and building upon competitive intelligence once it has been gathered. Competitive intelligence is emerging with renewed importance in the digital age. It's a way to keep on top of trends and other useful information. It is a useful area of knowledge for information brokers and other information professionals. This online course will be implemented entirely via the Internet with a flexible, asynchronous schedule. There will be weekly discussions, online field trips, and 3 written assignments.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This web-based course will be implemented entirely via the Internet with a flexible, asynchronous schedule. There will be weekly discussions, online field trips, and 3 written assignments. This course is designed to optimize discussion and community so that everyone can bootstrap on each other's knowledge, learning, and analytical abilities. For example, students will have an opportunity to get feedback from classmates concerning the two CI projects that are assigned, in order to improve the final work. This course will center upon regular readings and discussions of the readings, as well as discussions of assigned field trips and examples of CI. Discussions of readings are staggered so that they occur during the week following the week the readings are assigned. This will give everyone a full week to engage with the readings and prepare to discuss them. The book by Cook & Cook provides an overview of CI. The book by Prescott & Miller provides actual case studies and "lessons from the trenches" --- what various companies have learned about implementing a CI program.

Recommended preparation

Approaching CI Rather than look for information to answer a question, think about how you will use the answer. If you won't be able to incorporate actions based on the answer you find in your business strategy then maybe the question you asked needs changing to something that will lead to meaningful actions.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments 1. CI Project I --- Identify a competitive intelligence project, something of interest to you, concerning a strategic challenge for a company or program. Develop a short plan for implementing it (to be submitted to the class as the first stage in the project, in order to get feedback), and try to implement it. (Try to find information, but if you do encounter difficulties, discuss them, and try to problem-solve how you would overcome them with more time and resources. Identify (1) the goal of your project; (2) your information sources; (3) the result --- and the strategic implications; and (4) discussion of what you learned from this project, problems you encountered (and overcame --- or did not overcome). 2. CI Project II --- Identify a competitive intelligence project, something of interest to you, concerning a strategic challenge for a company or program. Develop a short plan for implementing it (to be submitted to the class as the first stage in the project, in order to get feedback), and try to implement it. (Try to find information, but if you do encounter difficulties, discuss them, and try to problem-solve how you would overcome them with more time and resources. Identify (1) the goal of your project; (2) your information sources; (3) the result --- and the strategic implications; and (4) discussion of what you learned from this project, problems you encountered (and overcame --- or did not overcome). 3. Short final paper. Present a personal response to the readings and the class learning activities. Discuss how competitive intelligence can be applied in your work/planned work. This assignment provides an opportunity for reflection. 4. Participation in class discussions.

Exceptional Achievement (A): The student produces convincingly argued evaluation or proposal; identifies a subject, describes it appropriately, and asserts a judgment of it; gives reasons and specific evidence to support the argument; engages the reader immediately, moves along logically and coherently and provides closure; reflects awareness of reader's questions or alternative evaluations. Assignment demonstrates extensive mastery of facts, skills, and concepts, including concepts from different readings and authorities whose ideas are examined. Writing quality in terms of grammar, punctuation, usage, structure, etc., as well as reader engagement (Make it interesting!). Evidence of originality, creative thinking. Evidence of mastery of course content --- including readings, World Wide Web and other Internet resources. Design projects such as the creation of web pages demonstrate exceptional design qualities such as alignment, proximity, cohesiveness, effective use of color, images, text and other design elements, organization, efficiency, and usability as well as mastery of the technology tools. Keep in mind that people with less technical background may demonstrate exceptional progress in terms of mastering technology tools. Commendable Achievement (B): The student produces well-argued evaluation; identifies, describes, and judges its subject; gives reasons and evidence to support the argument; is engaging, logical, attentive to the reader's concerns; is more conventional or predictable than the writer of an A assignment. Evidence of mastery of course content. Design projects such as the creation of web pages demonstrate commendable design, with less mastery of the technology tools. Adequate Achievement (C): The student produces adequately argued evaluation; identifies and judges its subject; gives at least one moderately developed reason to support the argument; lacks the authority and polish of the writer of an exceptional or commendable assignment; produces writing that, although focused and coherent, may be uneven; usually describes the subject more than necessary and argues a judgment less than necessary. Less evidence of mastery of course content. Weak in terms of analysis, dealing conceptually and critically with ideas. Design projects such as the creation of web pages demonstrate less adequate design and less mastery of the technology.

General notes on expectations in classes (Borrowed from Joe Janes, 1991) What I value Learning and fun. I hope that when you finish a class with me, Iíve made you think about something you hadnít thought of before, learned something youíll find valuable, and had a good time doing it. In general, I value creativity, originality, insight, synthesis, and an open, questioning attitude. I am at these in the ways in which I conduct individual sessions of classes as well as courses overall, assignments, projects, etc. To me, these are the characteristics that distinguish professionals, and thus I try to foster them in my students. My assignments, for example, thus tend to be somewhat free-form, allowing people to take many paths, demonstrating their creativity and originality, and trying things I never would have thought of. So I usually don't tell people things like how many pages to write or other instructions. (Of course, some assignments are more constrained, but they should be easy to spot.) I also value strong writing and presentation of ideas in a clear, professional manner. That means I care about (and evaluate assignments based on) things like grammar, organization, the mechanics of sentence structure, spelling, wording, and so on. I also care about design, layout, presentation, graphics, organization of hyperlinks, etc., when appropriate in, for example, Web-based projects or work. I assume everything you will submit to me is of the same quality and caliber as professional work you would submit to your supervisor or colleagues. However, content always wins over presentation and organization, so a flashy, well-designed and well-written paper that has nothing original or insightful to say won't score all that well. Both are important, but the message is the key.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
CI Syllabus
Last Update by Hilary Mclellan
Date: 06/19/2004