In Phase 1, our research goal was to design an effective and usable tool for early childhood teachers to us in order to rate the quality of the e-Book for use in early literacy instruction. Our interest in developing an e-Book rating tool began in 2008 with our first attempt, the Blueprint Key, and has evolved over time by blending several different analytic tools to create the most recent version, the Quality Rating Tool. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of each component of the Quality Rating Tool.

At the core of the e-book’s design potential for supporting literacy is the object construct, referred to variously as learning object, knowledge object, or instructional object. It is the learning object – its internals and relations with other objects – that shape the affordances of the e-book as a resource for young children’s literacy learning (Downes, 2003). Drawing from model-centered design theory (Gibbons, 1998) and learning object design and sequencing theory (Wiley, 2000), a multi-step method was developed to map the learning object architectural hierarchy of a sample of 10 high quality e-books (De Jong & Bus, 2003). The result, our Blueprint Key, focuses on digital assets (audio, video, text) as the unit of analysis in an effort to identify the learning-oriented assembly at the screen-page level. At its core, the blueprint key helps to reveal patterns that reflect the learning architecture of an e-book construction.

A firmer grasp of the learning object construct in e-book design supports the development of criteria and methodology guidelines for generating objects supportive of early literacy in computer-based instruction and performance support technology (Spohrer, Sumner, & Shum, 1998). The blueprint key probes navigation elements most often associated with a graphical user interface (GUI), the part of a computer program that sends messages to and receives instructions from the end user. Five digital assets are represented: images (e.g., photos), audio files, video clips, text segments, and the combined asset (e.g., an animated asset). Four conventional navigators are included: scroll up, scroll down, the button (defined navigation) and the pop up. Using these symbols, blueprints of individual LOs can be generated to examine the internal design of an LO.

In the week leading up to my AERA 2011 Annual Meeting presentation, I will be sharing parts of the presentation on Raised Digital. The paper I will be presenting focuses on the development of my e-Book Quality Rating Tool and is part of a symposium titled E-Books as Instructional Tools in Preschool Classrooms: Promises and Pitfalls. The symposium will take place Saturday, April 9, 2011 from 2:15pm – 3:45pm, at the Doubletree/Madewood B.


De Jong, M. T., & Bus, A. G. (2003). How well suited are electronic books for supporting literacy? Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 3(2), 147-164.

Downes, S. (2003). Learning objects in a wider context. Paper presented at the CADE National Research Council June, 2003.

Gibbons, A. S., Nelson, J., & Richards, R. (2000). The nature and origin of instructional objects. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The instructional use of learning objects. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Spohrer, J. Sumner, T. & Shum, S. B. (1998). Educational Authoring Tools and the Educational Object Economy: Introduction to the Special Issue From the East/West Group. Journal of Interactive Media In Education.

Wiley, D. A. (2000). Learning object design and sequencing theory. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Brigham Young University. Retrieved May 1, 2006,