Evolving Learning and Development Philosophies and Best Practices


The spring 2017 issue of Ranger: The Journal of the Association of National Park Rangers focuses on learning and development in the National Park Service (NPS). Readers can learn about the latest in “learning and development philosophies, tools and resources for the 21st century” and the ways in which the NPS is implementing them to support the workforce.

Three articles in the magazine specifically address the direction NPS learning and development is moving towards:

  1. “Democratizing the Process of Setting NPS Standards of Excellence” – John Rudy, Stephen T. Mather Training Center
  2. “The Learning and Performance Ecosystem” – Dylan Mroszczyk-McDonald, Acadia National Park
  3. “Common Learning Portal: The New Frontier” – Molly Russell and Tori Peterson, Distance Learning Group

Read the Articles

In “Democratizing the Process of Setting NPS Standards of Excellence”, John Rudy encourages fellow NPS employees to re-evaluate the standards of interpretive success and champions communication best practices that shift away from the didactic and presentational to the dialogical. This shift in culture “requires a shift in the fundamental function of the interpreter from ‘sage on the stage to guide on the side'” in which ideas of relevance originate from the visitor, not solely the interpreter. Rudy says this evolution will occur via tools like the NPS Common Learning Portal (CLP) and other collaborative technology which provides the opportunity and space to redefine the field of interpretation.

Dylan Mroszczyk-McDonald tackles the topic of continual learning and introduces the idea of a learning and performance ecosystem in his article “The Learning and Performance Ecosystem: A Conscious Approach to Ongoing Learning”. The article considers the differences between “learning” and “training”, taking the preconceived notion that they are synonymous and breaking it apart. Learning is more than just training; it can also occur from “doing research, consulting with others, and sharing information.” Mroszczyk-McDonald uses a scenario from his park to provide an example and illustrate the importance of continual learning.

Finally, in their article “Common Learning Portal: The New Frontier”, Molly Russell and Tori Peterson provide an overview of a new tool developed by the NPS Office of Learning and Development (L&D) that places NPS employees at the center of their learning experience and offers both training opportunities and resources and a space to connect and collaborate with subject matter experts and peers. The Common Learning Portal (CLP) is one of many tools in L&D’s greater vision to implement a Learning and Performance Ecosystem within the NPS. To learn more about Learning and Performance Ecosystems, check out this resource!

Copyright Notice

All three articles are published in Volume 33, Issue 2 of Ranger: The Journal of the Association of National Park Rangers, Spring 2017. Permission was received to link to all three articles pertaining to learning and development here.

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