Perhaps the two most well known iPod experiments in libraries and in higher education are:
1) Duke University last fall give all of its 1,650 incoming first-year students iPods. Duke is currently evaluating its iPod program, but not everyone there is convinced of their value as a teaching and learning tool. According to an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Last month editors of Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, urged campus officials to discontinue the iPod program, arguing that the university had not proved that iPods were legitimate classroom tools, and that Duke officials should look for more flexible devices if they want to encourage professors to teach with technology."
2) According to an article in Library Journal, "South Huntington Library, NY, became one of the first public libraries to circulate iPods, specifically the iPod Shuffle. ... Assistant Director Joseph Latini reports that the library purchased ten devices, six 1GB iPod shuffles ($149 each), the equivalent of a 16-hour audiobook, and four 512MB devices ($99 each), with eight-hour capacities. Titles come from the Apple iTunes site via Audible.com."
For South Huntington, the experiment has been a learning experience: "'Because it's so new we had to figure out how to catalog the audiobook on the Shuffle, get it into the public catalog, and allow people to place reserves,' [Director Ken] Weil says. 'There was no bib record to attach to iPods. We had to learn as we went along.' Getting them into the public catalog is important since 'that's how the public finds out what we have.'"
Besides serving as players for audiobooks, how might iPods and other such devices be used in the library? The Library Journal article mentions a couple of possibilities. First, they can be used for audio materials on reserves. Two, they can be used to provide instruction:
The Duke Divinity School Library, Durham, NC, has launched a project that puts audio instructions for using two electronic tools (Bibleworks and the ATLA Religions Database) and for navigating the print exegesis tools (Bible analysis and interpretation) in the Reference Room. "Since the librarians only work eight to five, Monday through Friday, and the library is open additional hours, we decided to record some instructions,"said Andrew Keck, Duke's electronic services librarian. Librarians like the iPod feature that alters playback speed (when saved in audiobook format), so that time-starved students can listen to a lecture at a faster rate. "Conversely, our students who work with English as a second language can slow things down," says Keck.
The Chronicle article ("Seriously, iPods Are Educational," March 18, 2005) offers other instructional possibilities. Some professors have gotten very creative indeed in using them as teaching and learning tools. For further examples, check out Duke's iPod First-Year Experience page for links to academic and course iPod projects.