With the advent of digital photography and more recently smartphones, it has never been easier to use photos as evidence of learning. And it could be argued that this has been a real gift to both educators and families. Educators are easily able to capture children’s learning in real time, and then share that with families, in real time. However, what if the sharing of photos becomes the focus rather than capturing evidence of learning?
As is pointed out in the National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program e-Newsletter (No 39, 2012) “Constant photographing can be very unsettling and interrupt the flow of play and learning experiences. However, judicious use of photos with analysis can help to capture children’s learning very effectively.” So I guess as educators, we need to think about how the photos we are taking are helping us make better sense of children’s learning.
According to the EYLF, we need to be viewing children as active participants in their own learning. Using EarlyWorks, educators can use photos and the voice of the child to document the child’s interpretation of an experience. When educators record observations in EarlyWorks, they are prompted to include the voice of the child. This provides us with a rich understanding of the meaning the child has taken from an experience. So rather than relying on the educators’ interpretations and analysis of photos, daily journals and observations can include what the children see as important in their learning.
This is taken one step further when the journals and observations are shared with families. Using EarlyWorks, families can add to the journals with observations and photos from home. Involving children in deciding what photos and stories are shared, gives educators an even deeper insight into children’s interests and their understanding of the world. So, used judiciously, photos can be a springboard for collaboration and exchange between children, families and educators.