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

Exploring E-Learning Tools, September 18 - October 29, 2017
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 3 - May 21, 2017 OR April 2 - May 20, 2018
Developing Effective Evaluations​, April 3 - May 21, 2017 OR April 2 - May 20, 2018
Online, instructor-led
$540 per core course; $390 per elective course; $150 discount for those who register for certificate track
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.

Watch an online information session about this certificate program. 

Oregon State University Museum and Free-Choice Learning/Informal Education Certificate  is a proud partner with the Association of Zoos and 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.
  • Lynn Dierking

    Instructor Lynn Dierking

    Sea Grant Professor

  • John H. Falk

    Instructor John H. Falk

    Sea Grant Professor

  • Shawn Rowe

    Instrucor Shawn Rowe

    Marine Education and Learning Specialist at the Oregon Sea Grant Extension Office.

  • Jennifer Bachman

    Jennifer Bachman photo

    Instructor and program coordinator.

  • Kerry Carlin-Morgan

    Instructor Kerry Carlin-Morgan

    Director of Public Programs, Oregon Coast Aquarium.

  • Michelle Mileham

    Instructor Michelle Mileham

    Michelle Mileham is the Director of Education at Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City and is finishing her Ph.D. at Oregon State University. Michelle studies Environmental Education in the context of Free-Choice Learning and her research interests include how aquarium staff and volunteers use stories to explain their connection to nature. While pursuing her Ph.D., Michelle also worked as an external evaluator on grant-funded programs for museums and a local school district.