iPods in Schools – Part 1: Configuration

This post explains some of the issues and ideas in the implementation of a set of iPods in a school.

This is part one of a few parts, Part 1 is explaining the configuration of the iPods and issues that may arise when setting them up.

We have 30 iPod Nano 8gb. These have a little screen, enough space to fit more than we would ever need (we hope) and they’re small.

I arranged the deal to get these with Apple over the phone, on the back of every iPod we got Apple to Laser engrave (at no extra cost) the school name and an Asset Number.

As for finding content for the iPods, I had to tread carefully around copyright, this means asking for permission to use the music/audio, finding free music, pod casts or other sorts of stuff to put on there.

For converting CD’s to put on an iPod, there’s 2 ways you can do it.  iTunes is great for when it’s a music CD, however in some cases we’ve got books that are on CD. In some cases they’re split across 30-40 tracks and putting them on the iPods is going to be a nightmare.  For the Audiobooks like this, I used a free program called Exact Audio Copy (I’ve been told it’s used by the pirates to create very good rips of Music CD’s).  This program lets me rip the entire CD into a .mp3 and a .cue file. The .cue file can be used to expand the CD out to its original form with all the tracks if needed.

Issues I’ve faced

One of the issues I’ve faced in implementing these iPods is a combination of the current network setup, Windows and iTunes.  When I plug the iPods (or any USB Storage) in, Windows assigns it a drive letter.  Letters AB are reserved, C is for the local drive, D is for the CD drive, the plugged in iPod chooses the letter E and then for F we have one of our network drives.  So, plugging in one iPod isn’t an issue, it’s just when I try to plug in 2 at once.  The second iPod will try to take the drive letter F, but it’s already taken by the network share.  iTunes comes up with an error saying “iTunes has detected an iPod in Recovery mode. Use iTunes to restore”.  Here is Apples page on the issue.

The solution:  We need to tell the iPod to mount on a drive *after* F. To do this you:

  1. Go to Control Panels -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management
  2. Click on Disk Management
  3. Locate the iPod that isn’t working
  4. Right Click and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths”
  5. Change the Drive letter to something that isn’t taken.
  6. Use the “Safely Eject Hardware” button on the task bar to eject the iPod.
  7. Unplug then plug the iPod back in.  iTunes will recognise it and everything will work 🙂

Charging the iPods

For charging the iPods, I’ve requested quotes from a few different places to obtain some Powered USB Hubs. The idea of this is that they won’t need a computer to charge, but I can plug a computer in to the hub to sync 5 iPods at once.

I looked at getting a proper iPod Docking station, however they’re around $1000 each. A powered USB hub is somewhere closer to $10-$20.


The problem with the headphones that come with the iPods is that they sit in your ear. This would help ear infections to spread so we decided against using them. Instead we’re still awaiting replies from a few different suppliers to see about getting some nice sturdy headphones that don’t actually touch the ear and instead they cup over the ear.  Our aim is to spend no more than $20 per set.


iPods are small, small enough to be easily stolen.  We’ve distributed the iPods as 5 per teacher in Yr 6 and made them responsible for locking them up every night after school and keeping track of them.  Hopefully this way none of them will go missing.

Part 2 of this guide will be about what we’re using the iPods for, a few educational resource links and other issues that have arisen with the iPods.