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

Photo of check presentationAT&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,” said 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 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 said. 

“Mobile technologies have the ability to improve life for all of us, but especially in the area of special education,” said 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

About Philanthropy and Social Innovation at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring. Through Aspire, AT&T has passed the $250 million mark on its plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017.

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Photo Caption:
Executives from AT&T presented a $200,000 giant check to Kent State University on Dec. 10 signifying the company’s contribution to the university’s Research Center for Educational Technology. Pictured with students from the research center are (left to right) Annette Kratcoski, director of the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State; Rick Ferdig, Summit Professor of Learning Technologies and professor of institutional technology at Kent State; Steve Kristan, director of external affairs at AT&T; Beverly Warren, president of Kent State; and Adam Grzybicki, president of AT&T Ohio.

Media Contacts:
Sarah Briggs, AT&T,, 614-223-7641
Rick Ferdig, Kent State University,, 330-672-3317
Emily Vincent, Kent State University,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Thursday, December 10, 2015 04:08 PM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM
Deb McGuinness