For Students, a 21st Century World Means 21st Century Questions

21 Sep 2016 | Andrea Brands

Tagged: Digital Connections, People, Responsible Use of Technology,


As the new school year begins across the country, it’s hard not to reminisce about the questions I always had in the back of my mind at the beginning of a new  school year. They ranged from the immediate and critical:  Will I fall from these platform shoes? What was Saturday Night Fever really trying to tell me?  To the really-important-but-abstract: How do I study for the SAT? What is the college application process like?  Am I prepared to compete academically with the other students? And every year, it seemed like questions became more abundant and sophisticated as they grew in number and importance. While some of the answers still require introspection, many of the answers are straightforward; you just need to know where to look. Now, thanks the internet, many of those answers are just a click away.

As students from California to Illinois to New York begin this new school year, I hope they raise their hands, ponder the hard questions and take advantage of the resources they have, both on and offline, to find the answers they’re looking for.


There are countless tools online that help young students expand their knowledge outside the classroom and find answers to their hardest college and career questions. As many of us know, the card catalogue and microfiche of my day weren’t exactly liberating or efficient. On the flip side, with the wealth of information online figuring  out where to search for what the student in your life needs can quickly become overwhelming. That’s why we’ve built an educational resource library on AT&T’s Digital You website to provide some truly innovative resources for your family. Here are a few highlights:


  • Curriki: The Curriki library hosts thousands of educator-vetted, openly licensed, online educational materials that teachers, educators, or other professionals have created and have made freely available to others for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing.
  • Explore fun interactive tutorials to start coding. It’s for all ages!
  • Khan Academy SAT Prep: Download a real, full-length SAT practice test, work through real SAT problems, and get even more practice using our interactive questions.
  • Udacity: To prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs requiring technological expertise, AT&T has teamed up with education technology leader Udacity to launch Nanodegrees programs — new educational online pathways to industry-relevant skills.
  • Common Sense Media’s Best Apps: Recommendations for Families: Looking for educational, age-appropriate apps? Check out Common Sense Media best apps for families.


These tools are just the tip of the iceberg, so check out our website for more. They can help any student, no matter the age, begin to find answers about the next steps in life.


As students from California to Illinois to New York begin this new school year, I hope they raise their hands, ponder the hard questions and take advantage of the resources they have, both on and offline, to find the answers they’re looking for. As for me, I’m dusting off those platforms for my dance with destiny. 


About the Author

Andrea Brands



Since she began her career more than 20 years ago, Andrea Brands has had a varied career that includes high-level positions in government, political and corporate communications and public affairs – largely in the Chicago area of Illinois. She spearheads consumer education programs that include driver safety (AT&T’s anti-texting-while-driving campaign, It Can Wait) and online safety, where she has developed educational outreach programs for students, parents, external organizations, communities and seniors. Just recently, Ms. Brands was named AT&T’s first Director of Consumer Safety & Education, dedicated to empowering consumers with tools and information to help them use technology safely and efficiently.

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