MEDIA COMPETENCES THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
The importance of media literacy is undisputable. This is especially true for children, who are growing up surrounded by media. Studies such as the BLIKK-Study in Germany show, that 70% of kindergarten-age children use their parent’s smartphones more than 30 minutes per day. Because their use of media at home is mostly receptive, it is important, that kindergartens become involved in teaching media literacy as a way to foster critical and reflective use and thus help close the digital divide. In our own survey among 84 kindergarten educators in Croatia, Estonia, Germany and Slovenia we have found that 92% of educators think media education is important for kindergarten-age children. 83% would like to further strengthen their knowledge in this area while 65, 5% thinks there are not enough suitable materials available.
In our Erasmus+ project Eduskills+Media we have approached these problems through using photography activities as a gateway to media education. We have developed more than 70 photographic activities and tested them in kindergartens. Over 180 children have been directly involved in project activities for two consecutive years. The involved educators report that the activities helped children to get acquainted with the devices and their use (camera, smart-phone, and computer) but, even more importantly, they have been motivated to use them creatively, critically and actively. Our survey among more than 100 educators shows, that the portal Eduskills+Media covers important educational topics, answers to the needs of educators as well as offers new information and materials that will be useful for introducing media education in other kindergartens as well.
Based on the experiences in kindergartens our partnership would like to inform policy makers about the following findings:
- Photography is a good means to introduce media education – it fosters active, creative and critical media use.
- Visual literacy is extremely important in web-based environments; photography is a good way to improve visual competences.
- Introducing photographic activities in kindergartens and schools does not require pricey equipment.
- Photography offers a low-threshold opportunity for media education, especially suitable for older teachers or teachers who are generally more opposed to using technology in kindergartens.
- Educators express the need for more online teaching materials for media education.
- Educating parents about appropriate media use of children is increasingly important in fostering media literacy of children.
Project group Eduskills+Media: