President Obama’s Program to Provide E-books to Poor Students

June 18, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. initiative / ɪˈnɪʃ i ə tɪv / (n.) – a program that will help achieve a specific target
Example: The mobile library was an initiative done to encourage people to read.

2. access /ˈæk sɛs / (n.) – the permission to use something
Example: I don’t have access to the library’s database.

3. broadband / ˈbrɔdˌbænd / (n.) – an electronic network that carries Internet signals
Example: The school has high-speed broadband.

4. comprehend / ˌkɒm prɪˈhɛnd / (v.) – to understand the meaning of something
Example: Michael could not comprehend what he read.

5. disrupt / dɪsˈrʌpt / (v.) – to cause interruption
Example: Angela came and disrupted Amy’s reading time.


Read the text below.
President Barack Obama has launched an initiative that will provide e-books to students from low-income families.

With this initiative, low-income students will receive $250 million worth of free e-books from major book publishers. Using the technology developed by the New York Public library, students will have access to various e-books that will be useful in studying. This idea came at a time when more schools and libraries in poor communities have gained access to the Internet.

This initiative is linked with Obama’s ConnectEd program. This two-year-old program aims to improve education by making broadband Internet more accessible. By 2018, the program specifically targets to provide Internet access to 99% of American students.

The ConnectEd program started in June 2013. Since then, it has received more than $2 billion from private companies to help achieve its target. Among them are Apple, AT&T, Adobe, Microsoft, Verizon, Prezi, Sprint, and Autodesk.

Providing e-books is convenient for students. However, using e-books also has disadvantages. According to professors from West Chester University, students who used e-books were able to comprehend less than those who used printed books. Another professor from Temple University said that e-books are prone to technical problems, which may disrupt class discussions. Since reading e-books entails the use of technological devices, students can also get distracted by other things on the Internet.

Despite these disadvantages, some students still prefer e-books to printed books, as e-books are cheaper and easier to carry.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think this initiative will also be useful and feasible in your country? Why or why not?
·         Do you agree that making the Internet accessible is needed to improve education? Why is that so?

Discussion B

·         Apart from those mentioned, what can be the other disadvantages of using e-books?
·         In your opinion, will e-books completely replace printed books in the future? Please explain your answer.

June 18, 2015