GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department is experimenting with virtual programming in addition to its in-person educational classes and seminars.
With the use of tablets and smartphones ever more prevalent, parks officials want to expand the reach of their programming by making their educational courses available to those who might not come to the Patricia Elmore Center in Greenfield but would consider accessing its offerings online, said Jeremiah Schroeder, recreation programming director. Their efforts begin with two classes open to anyone — a 3D shape drawing class and a guide to cruise vacation planning — accessible by visiting the parks department’s website at greenfieldin.org/parks.
Virtual programming gives parks department officials a new way to connect with area residents.
“We wanted people to be able to use their computer or mobile devices to experience parks programs wherever they have an Internet connection,” Schroeder said. “Using those, they can also experience programs they might not be able to otherwise due to time or travel constraints.”
Participants in the virtual classes will register like they would for any other program, which includes providing an email address. Participants are then emailed a link that’s available for a limited amount of time in order for them to watch and listen to the video or presentation whenever it’s convenient for them, Schroeder said.
Online courses are $5 for Greenfield residents and $7 for non-residents.
Parks employees began working on the endeavor last year. The drawing and vacation-planning classes were chosen for their wide appeal to the general public, but Schroeder and parks officials plan to offer more in the future.
And the classes will be nothing if not diverse.
For example, parks department employee Josh Gentry, who carved the eagle and bear carvings featured in Riley Park, plans to film an introductory-level class to chainsaw woodcarving.
Though he joked the disclaimer for his instructional videomight be nearly as long as the video itself, Gentry said he envisions the online class including information about how to care for a chainsaw and ready it for carving. The actual carving instructions might be in a time-lapse format, as creating an entire carving can take about 12 hours, he said.
“To wrap that up in 18 minutes, it will have to be like a cooking show,” he said.
Other options coming to the virtual class roster in the future are fitness programs through a partnership with a family-owned fitness company in the Greenfield area, Schroeder said.
“Streaming video is really popular right now with fitness companies,” he said. “People are using their tablets and phones more often to work out. For someone who, for example, might have to go out of town, they could still work out if they had their mobile device with them with the streaming video on it.”
Offering online classes gives a taste of what the parks department has to offer to those who may be hesitant to commit to an in-person class, said Ellen Kuker, parks superintendent.
“This is a great way to get an introductory exposure to a parks program,” Kuker said. “It may be reaching those individuals who don’t have the means to come to a program or who are unable to get out and come to a program for whatever reason. I think there’s a group of individuals this could really appeal to.”
The Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department is now offering two online classes.
A 3D shape drawing class will be held Feb. 16; a class about planning a cruise vacation will be held Feb. 23. Registration for both online and in-person iterations of the class is available now at greenfieldin.org/parks.