Foundations of Interpretation

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.




Around the world, guides, docents, and naturalists at parks, museums, zoos, and cultural and historical sites strive to provide meaningful experiences for visitors. Interpretation is the essential tool they use. Upon successful completion of this course, you’ll receive a certificate issued by the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, Indiana University.

The Foundations of Interpretation provides the learner with the fundamental theories and practices of effective interpretation and is ideal for those new to the field or simply interested in a refresher on interpretation concepts.

See More

Course Schedule

This course is self-paced, allowing learners the flexibility to complete the course as quickly or slowly as they need. While exploring course content, learners can investigate topics in greater detail through enrichment activities that link to real-world examples, original source materials, and policy documents. Learners can easily move from section to section as they navigate through the course, revisiting concepts as needed.

Elements of the course

  • Informational text
  • Interactive practice activities
  • Videos
  • Informal assessment quizzes
  • Reference materials
  • Final assessment

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

Course Chapters

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

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.


FoundationalReview by Lane
This course is brief and helps convey the principles that make interpretation what it is. Helpful for beginners s and those wanting to review those old skills. (Posted on 8/7/2018)
This was a great learning experienceReview by LEANORA
This is a great course that added to my knowledge base in a subject area that I have been interested in for a very long time. I was very excited to learn about the different techniques that can be used when assisting visitors to sites.
Learning about the why was very important to and makes the idea of living history and making history come alive is very special. I can use the many techniques when I am working with students. (Posted on 7/30/2018)
ExcellentReview by Cheryl Ann
Well presented materials that were easy to navigate through. provided plenty of references for future learning. (Posted on 7/30/2018)
Very InterestingReview by Herminia
Gives you a broader knowledge of the course itself. Following all what you have learned will build a better Foundations on your Interpretation. Recommendable. (Posted on 7/28/2018)
It is an added knowledgeIt giveReview by Herminia
It explained well the Foundations of Interpretation. (Posted on 7/27/2018)
Good IntroReview by Casey
This course provided a great introduction to interpretation. I will definitely be continuing on to the Fundamentals of Interpretation Certificate course. (Posted on 7/20/2018)
Overall very goodReview by Greg
Interesting and applicable. Can work on it at my leisure when time allows (Posted on 6/12/2018)
Lots of Good InformationReview by Cheryl
Tons of information to help me get started on my presentation..... (Posted on 5/30/2018)
This is an interesting and engaging topic.Review by Denise
This course presented me with many ideas that will help me as an interpreter. I think I will start by implementing the A - knowing my audience. Thank you for this course. (Posted on 5/29/2018)
Very InformativeReview by Emily
This interpretation class was very beneficial to beginning my interpretation guide goals. (Posted on 2/27/2018)
very educationalReview by Iliana
I learned a lot and it was presented in a way that was easy to remember. (Posted on 1/23/2018)
alot of information Review by Maryanne
The course was average. There should have been more examples. (Posted on 12/27/2017)
The course was review but it was worth it.Review by Kelly
Good Job. (Posted on 12/20/2017)
Nicely organized and presented course, rich with examples.Review by Ken
This course provides a broad context for the art of interpretation. It stresses the importance of connecting the resource in question to the audience, with both being of equal importance in providing a meaningful experience to visitors. Many examples and illustrations are included which really do help communicate the messages more clearly. (Posted on 11/3/2017)
5 StarsReview by Haden
It really gives you a good start background and foundation to interpretation. It was a quick course to take. I really enjoyed the knowledge that the course had to offer and I will continue to build off this course. Thank You! (Posted on 9/11/2017)
well structuredReview by Liz
I learned a lot. (Posted on 8/18/2017)

Write Your Own Review

You're reviewing: Foundations of Interpretation

How do you rate this product? *

  1 star 2 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars