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Foundations of Interpretation



Full course description

Course summary:

Many of us enjoy visits to parks, museums, and historical sites. When we understand the significance of what we are seeing, the experience often takes on new meaning and the place springs to life. All over the world, docents, park guides, and naturalists at museums, parks, zoos, and cultural and historical sites strive to provide meaningful experiences for visitors. Interpretation is the essential tool they use.

The Foundations of Interpretation course provides an introduction to interpretation. It answers the essential what, why, and how of the profession.

Course objectives:

After completing this course, learners should be able to:

  • Describe the history and philosophy of interpretation
  • Recognize the importance of providing interpretive services
  • Identify the skills needed to be an interpreter
  • Describe the interpretive process

Recommended background:

There are no prerequisites for this course; all are welcome.

Course topics include:

  • What is interpretation?
  • Why do we do interpretation?
  • What skills do interpreters need?
  • How do you do interpretation?

Elements of the course:

  • Informational text
  • Informational video
  • Interactive practice activities
  • Supplemental reference materials
  • Final assessment

This course is self-paced, allowing learners the flexibility to complete the course as quickly or slowly as they need.

After completing all course content and activities, you will complete a final quiz to demonstrate your understanding of key course concepts. Upon successful completion of the quiz, you will be awarded a certificate of completion.

Course creators:

This course was designed and developed by the Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands.

How to access:

Upon enrolling, you will receive instructions and the link to the Canvas course. Note: When you register, you will receive an email invitation. Be sure to accept that invitation, or Canvas will not allow you to open the course modules.

Enrollees can move through content modules at their own pace within the course timeframe.


Length: Self-paced


Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands


Credit: 0.1 CEUs


Audience: Anyone working in parks, recreation, or public lands

Sign up for this course today!