Unique and enriching professional development opportunities for professionals based in zoos, museums, parks, cultural centers or other public settings.

Examining the Learner's Own Ideas: Personal Dimensions of Free-Choice Learning, September 25 - November 12, 2017
Understanding Cultural Influence: Sociocultural Dimensions of Free-Choice Learning, January 8 - February 25, 2018
Developing STEM / STEAM Curriculum, January 8 - February 25, 2018
Designing Learning Environments: Physical Dimensions of Free-Choice Learning, April 2 - May 20, 2018
Developing Effective Evaluations​, April 2 - May 20, 2018
Online, instructor-led
$1,515 for certificate track ($150 discount); $425 per core course; $390 per elective course
Designed for:
• Staff and volunteers at museums, zoos, aquariums, science centers, cultural and natural history museums, nature centers and nonprofits focusing on public education
• Community college and adult educators
• Those conducting science-based outreach at universities

This innovative program immerses museum, zoo, aquarium and science outreach professionals and volunteers in informal and free-choice learning theories. Participants will work with some of the field’s leading researchers and learn how to apply informal learning environments theories in real-world educational settings.

Participants can earn the Museum and Free-Choice Learning/Informal Education Certificate by completing each required course for this program or take individual courses without enrolling in the professional certificate program.  

What is Informal Learning?

Informal, or free-choice, learning is all about deciding what, where and how we want to learn over the course of our lifetimes. It's the learning that takes place all the time, outside of the classroom, no matter how young or old you are.

Free-Choice Learning Information Session

For a better idea about this certificate, watch this helpful information session...

Proud Partners

Oregon State University Museum and Free-Choice Learning/Informal Education Certificate  is a proud partner with Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) specializing in Education & Interpretation. 




  • Personal, socio-cultural and physical dimensions of free-choice learning and informal learning theory.
  • Learn from Oregon State University scholars leading the field of free-choice learning research.
  • Valuable professional development by enrolling in the full professional certificate program or a single course.
  • Erin Hicks

    Erin is a museum professional with over 10 years of experience working on the design and development of art and history museum exhibits. Erin expanded that experience to include museum education theory and practice as she earned a masters degree in museum studies, specifically following a learning track of visitor experience and education. Her coursework and research focused on interpreting and exhibiting art collections, art education in museums, and administrative topics such as museum planning and the economics of arts and culture. While attending Buffalo State, SUNY, located in Buffalo, New York, Erin was introduced to the study of creativity and the impact that creative problem solving methods could have on critical museum issues by completing coursework at the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) also located at Buffalo State. Erin's academic and professional work in the field culminated into a research project entitled Second Nature: An exploration in planning and design concepts for a place- and community-based museum process.

  • John H. Falk

    Instructor John H. Falk

    Sea Grant Professor, Museum and Free-Choice Learning / Information Education Course Advisor

  • Lynn Dierking

    Instructor Lynn Dierking

    Sea Grant Professor, Museum and Free-Choice Learning / Information Education Course Advisor

  • Shawn Rowe

    Instrucor Shawn Rowe

    Marine Education and Learning Specialist at the Oregon Sea Grant Extension Office, Museum and Free-Choice Learning / Information Education Course Advisor