Kent State Receives Contribution From AT&T to Improve Mobile Technologies for Special Education

AT&T has made a $200,000 contribution to Kent State University’s Research Center for Educational Technology to implement new technology in special education environments with a focus on mobile apps, including those intended to help students learn science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Faculty, staff and students from the Research Center for Educational Technology, special education, school psychology, teacher education and computer science are partnering to explore how mobile applications can be used to support students in school, home and therapeutic settings. The project’s main goal is to leverage the ubiquity of mobile technologies to improve learning in students with special needs, including but not limited to physical, emotional and learning disabilities, speech/language impairments, autism spectrum disorder and other low-incidence developmental disabilities.

“As technology continues to evolve and become prevalent in our lives, this partnership between AT&T and Kent State University will showcase how mobile technologies can change lives for students and teachers right here in Portage County,” says State Rep. Kathleen Clyde.

The project has three major outcomes:

  1. A searchable website that catalogs high-quality apps for special education, especially those focusing on STEAM. The website will serve as a resource for parents, teachers, students and researchers (
  2. Implementation studies that help build foundational knowledge in the field, as well as assist in teacher professional development. 
  3. New prototype app development that will fill a need for special education students, parents, teachers and therapeutic professionals.

Rick Ferdig, Ph.D., lead investigator on the contribution and who also serves as the Summit Professor of Learning Technologies and professor of instructional technology at Kent State, suggested that technologies have not always provided universal benefit.

“We have research evidence that technology can positively impact teaching and learning, but that does not mean new tools are always created with all learners in mind,” Ferdig says.

“Mobile technologies have the ability to improve life for all of us, but especially in the area of special education,” says Steve Kristan, director of external affairs at AT&T. “AT&T is thrilled to collaborate with Kent State University’s Research Center for Educational Technology to help students.”

The Research Center for Educational Technology, an academic unit within Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, has been associated with AT&T since the creation of the AT&T Classroom in 1998. A cutting-edge K-16 facility, the AT&T Classroom allows faculty and staff at Kent State to provide just-in-time and situated professional development for teachers.

During the academic year, local teachers bring their students to the AT&T Classroom for an extended session of 3-5 weeks, during which they use the digital tools within a unit of study based on the Common Core State Standards. Since its inception, the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State has worked with more than 185 teachers across more than 20 districts. Kent State research suggests that working with teachers is a critical way to prepare students to work and live in the 21st century.

For more information about Kent State’s Research Center for Educational Technology, visit

POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2016 11:10 AM
UPDATED: Thursday, December 08, 2022 03:57 PM
Deb McGuinness

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