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.

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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.


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)

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