The unexpected demise of Knowledge House Inc. has brought classroom confusion for the Nova Scotia Department of Education.

On Thursday of last week, Halifax, N.S.-based Knowledge House issued a press release stating it was unable to continue operating due to a lack of funding.

The Nova Scotia Department of Education was especially surprised by the news of Knowledge House’s closure. In May, the department announced an agreement with Knowledge House that was to see 83 students in five schools use Knowledge House’s Advanced Students program as part of a collaborative problem-based learning education pilot.

“We had written assurance as recently as Aug. 31st that they were financially sound,” said Leanne Strathdee, a spokesperson for the department of education, which invested $1.2 million in the pilot program.

Designed for “bright and talented” Grade 11 and 12 students, the program was to teach students the tenets of the provinces education curriculum – math, biology, chemistry, mathematics, English, global geography and computer studies – through traditional classroom instruction and a Web-based component designed by Knowledge House.

The program kicked off last week, but its future is uncertain. “We’re still able to teach to collaborative part of the program right now,” Strathdee said, referring to the fact that a part of the program exists independently of Knowledge House’s Web-based component.

Strathdee said the department of education, which met with Knowledge House Friday, is expected to reach a decision on the program in the next couple of days.

The maker of Web-based education programs said it had knocked in vain on all possible doors in search of further financing. In its release, Knowledge House also said it would be searching for a potential buyer of its assets, even as it held out the hope that financing to continue operations would become available in the near future. As of Monday, Knowledge House’s main phone line was no longer in service. Calls to public relations contacts were not returned.

Few watchers of the technology industry were expecting Knowledge House’s demise. Last month, Knowledge House was included on the list of the 2001 Deloitte & Touche Canadian Technology Fast 50 inclusion of Knowledge House and InfoInterActive Inc., also of Halifax, marked the first time a company from Eastern Canada was named to the Fast 50 list.

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