JUNEAU -- The Special Education Unit in Alaska'S Department of Education and Early Development (EED) will develop e-learning solutions designed to train education paraprofessionals across Alaska who assist students with special needs.

In addition to using KnowledgeNet's e-learning courseware, EED will use the KnowledgeNet Learning Management System to manage the delivery of the e-learning courseware, grant access to registered users, track their progress and provide customized reports for EED administrators.

The entire project was completed in under six weeks, and is already up and running after being met with an enthusiastic reception by state educators.

"Our previous training was essentially Web-based e-reading, and we felt that e-learning content and technology were now at a point where we should consider e-learning to add more pizzazz and impact to our paraprofessional development programs," said Cathy Anderegg, director of the state improvement grant at EED.

"Our primary goal was to transform our program from a model where paraprofessionals were receiving occasional training to a more ongoing and sustained model," Anderegg said.

The demand for education paraprofessionals has increased steadily since the first teacher assistant entered public school classrooms during the 1950s. Today, that demand is fueled by a nationwide education reform movement, which calls for more paraprofessionals to help teachers make classroom instruction more effective, efficient and tailored to the individual needs of students.