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iPods, Games, and English 103: The Technology


Apple Configurator

We used Apple Configurator to configure and reset the iPod touches that we used during our game. This software also allowed us to create the "apps" that students used to get hints and tips as they attempted to complete the tasks.


We used iMessage, which comes built-in with all iPod touches, to allow the students to text their answers to the librarians on their iPads. iMessage allows students to send text, photo, or video messages.

Setting Up

Before each class session begins, we set up the iPods so they are ready to be used for the game with no action required on the students' parts.

  • iPods are preloaded with a username and password for our campus Wi-Fi, so students don't need to connect with their own accounts.
  • A contact for the librarian is already in the iPods' address books, so the students only need to send a message to "Librarian" and not "".
  • We pull up the Messages app so that it is already on screen as soon as the student unlocks the device.
  • The teams names are displayed on the lock screen of each iPod, so the students know which team they are on.

Before the students begin working on the tasks, we ask each team to send a test message to the librarian. Once the librarian receives their message, that team is free to begin working. This allows us to make sure that there are no issues with the iPod before the students leave the room, and it's a way to make sure that everyone knows how to work the iPod's messaging function.

The "Apps"

Find a Book Find an Article Keywords LC Call Numbers Popular vs. Scholarly Bonus

The "apps" that are used during our game aren't true apps. They are pre-loaded web sites that are accessible on the iPods through icons on the home screen. When a student taps on one it opens a webpage, much like a bookmark does on a desktop browser. Students can then use these pages to get help during the game.

Some of these websites were custom-built mobile websites that we made just for the game. Others link directly to the mobile version of our English 103 LibGuide. You can take a look at our custom mobile sites at the following links (note that these are mobile sites, so they may look odd in a deskop browser):


Library of Congress Call Numbers

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Library Maps


Wi-Fi Icon

On occasion, we had difficulties with the technology that needed to be resolved  quickly. Most often, the problems were with the Wi-Fi in the library. Our building is old and wireless can be very spotty.

In most cases, we were able to resolve these issues with only minimal inconvenience to the students. We tell them in advance to bring the iPods back to the classroom if they have any trouble connecting, and in many cases simply moving to another part of the building is enough to fix the issue. On those occasions where we are not able to restore the connection, we are able to simply look at the unsent messages on the student's iPods and give them credit for the correct answers. Messages that are not sent are clearly marked in the Messages app (see image below), so we also do a quick check at the end of the game to make sure that every message from each team was sent successfully.

Unable to Send Message

Students & iPods

But what if some students have a difficult time using the iPods?

In two semesters of doing this game, we have had only one student that was unsure how to use an iPod. And because they are in groups of 2 to 3, there is always at least one student who can operate the iPod. In fact, if anything the students are too familiar with how to use an iPod! Occasionally, they will make "creative" changes to the iPods that we then have to reset at the end of the session (such as changing the iPod's wallpaper).

Subject Guide

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Susan Brazer
Guerrieri Academic Commons

- Salisbury University--

Salisbury, MD