As schools and libraries look at new technology and decide how they want to design programming, some decide to implement a “Bring Your Own Device” policy (BYOD) instead of buying a series of devices. In other situations, school and libraries decide to invest in various devices. In our district, we decided to think outside the box and invest in a class set of iPods.

Bring Your Own Device

In our district, we have a class set of iPods that are used in addition to Chromebooks, laptops, and the computer lab. Our teachers love using Kahoot, but sometimes it’s frustrating when the kids use their own devices and you can see the snapchat notifications popping up at the top of their screen. In addition, it makes the digital divide very clear on who has devices and who doesn’t. Our teachers will do team activities to minimize that, but they love that they can send an email to the library and say, “can I borrow a few iPods?”

In addition, some teachers may be working on a project or activity that requires a few basic searches to complete the assignment. They feel guilty filling up the lab for a small chunk of a project, but they know that an iPod functions like a smartphone and the kids can use it for simple searches. This also allows teachers to model using a cell phone as a tool. Adults and teens use their phones to help them get through the day, it’s great to be able to practice on an iPod and teachers can model good cell phone etiquette and help students expand those skills (Neilsen, 2013).

During presentations, several teachers enjoy using Nearpod as a way to gather data, engage students with VR, and present their lesson. We’ve learned that if we use the iPods, there’s less distraction from social media notifications, and there’s a smaller chance of them getting kicked off the wifi. As public libraries work to develop programs, gathering data from teens can help library staff improve programming. Using Nearpod or Google Forms can put a survey in a teen’s hand, and they may be more likely to give feedback compared to a paper form.

Our teachers also use hyperdocs as a tool to share out their lessons. They have tools like flipgrid and Let’s Recap, that require students to verbally record an answer. Using the iPods is a great way to streamline this process. One teacher actually decided to have 2 iPods with the substitute and had her kids do a flipgrid on a day she was out. By using a limited number of iPods, it prevented her sub from having to worry about if students were using their own phones effectively.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a tool that can really add another layer to activities that are going in the library and classroom. There are several options available to integrating virtual reality in the classroom and library, but the big problem that occurs is when you look at size of devices and how devices can be used.

Building virtual field trips in Nearpod can add an extra layer to a lesson or library program. We don’t always use the headsets with these, because we love that our students can zoom in on certain spots and see details and make inferences about what they see.

If you are able to use headsets, there are some specific apps that we have used with our students with success. These include King Tut VR, Random42, Cedar Point VR, and Moon VR.

Virtual reality has been an interesting feature in our makerspace. Students have also been given challenges with cospaces (on a computer) to build their own virtual world that we can then view on the iPods.

Ipods in the library can be a great way to prevent technological issues when doing VR programming. If you are at an institution that has teens bring their own device, there may be a few issues that will come up.  

  1. If you are planning on using a specific app, it’s hard to get teens to have the app downloaded in time for your program.
  2. Sometimes teens have old devices and certain apps may not work correctly.
  3. Sometimes teens have devices that have issues connecting to your wifi.

If you are looking for examples of virtual reality in the public library setting. Check out this post on YALSA’s Programming HQ.

Other programming ideas

When we are looking at equipment for our schools and libraries, we want to make sure that they are being used. Here are some other applications that the iPods have been able to be used for in our building:

  • In the library makerspace, students are given various STEM challenges. iPods are a great way to implement a stopmotion challenge. Students have to plan out their stop motion movie, figure out what props in the library would be the best tools, and implement their plan. Not only does this follow the process of design thinking, it also connects to the writing process (plan, communicate with peers to share ideas, implement, and check your work).
  • In addition to using them as tools in our makerspace, simple tools on our phone can be taken for granted. Our yearbook team wanted to borrow our ipods to allow multiple students to act as photographers.

Overall, I’ve been amazed with how versatile the iPods have been in the school library setting. I’m really excited to see what new activities we can develop with my teachers. Unfortunately, Apple is focusing most of it’s energy on iPads, which are great for many activities, but are not well suited for VR. It can be tough to find articles on that specifically state “iPod,” but several articles that review apps for iPhone and iPad will be useful if you are looking for more resources.


Neilsen, L (2013). Finally! Research-based proof that students use cell phones for learning. Retrieved from:

Sovell, E (2017). Virtual reality @ the library (teen tech week 2017). Retrieved from

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