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Kodak is developing a lot more than just pictures these days, and the Rochester-based company wants Cheektowaga-Sloan to be the first school district to try out its Digitized Distributed Learning prototype.

Eastman Kodak representatives showed the board how the new computer technology would work to make the schools' distance-learning lab truly interactive.

"What we found was that the potential of distance learning was being underutilized," said Patrick R. Faure, global telecommunications manager for Kodak. "So we launched an effort to meet that need."

The computer server would store videotaped classes and distribute them digitally over the Internet.

Students, as well as parents and community members, would have access to any recorded class they wanted, any time they wanted, from their own computer terminal at home.

The "class" would show the teacher on a split-screen alongside pages of the text to which the teacher was referring. The system is automated, with pages "flipped" as a teacher moves through the material.

Students could even raise their hand via e-mail.

The teacher would answer e-mailed questions by incorporating them into updated lessons in a text box at the bottom of the screen.

The district's current distance-learning lab -- already one of the area's most advanced -- permits only a limited number of students to view recorded classes in the lab or borrow tapes of the program.

Although the server package could run as high as $100,000, based on comparative systems, a cost estimate for Cheektowaga-Sloan is not yet available, Faure said.

But he added that the district's already elaborate infrastructure lessens the cost and makes it the best candidate for the test program.

School officials said help from CityNet and other grants would be sought to fund the plan, if it is approved.

The board will make a decision after final plans are submitted.

"We are, frankly, way ahead of the curve on this one," said School Superintendent James P. Mazgajewski.

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