Despite its lack of display screen, Apple's $79 iPod shuffle can be more useful than you might think. I recently grew my iPod collection to include a 1GB shuffle. The iPod shuffle's memory can store more than 12 hours of audio, which means the battery will need to be recharged before I've listened to all of the audio. Since I'm always near a computer for syncing and charging, the 1GB of memory (compared to my 60GB iPod) isn't as limiting as I thought it would be.
|To sort an iTunes playlist by date, right-click the Name column header and select Date Added. Then click the newly displayed Date Added header to sort newest-to-oldest. Click again to sort oldest-to-newest.|
In classrooms where students are listening to a limited number of podcasts, the shuffle could be useful. Students could check out the shuffle (perhaps for a center activity). They can even clip the shuffle to their clothing so they don't drop the device. Now that the iPod shuffle comes in five different colors, they make handy additions to classrooms; content on the iPods could be color-coded. For example, the orange iPod is loaded with history podcasts while the the green one has episodes about volcanoes.
With a name like shuffle, you might think that the player would only be good for listening to music in a random order. But, the iPod shuffle has a switch to toggle between random order and going in the order synced from iTunes. While you can't navigate playlists on the iPod shuffle, in iTunes you can create a playlist for the shuffle and move the audio around in any order you want before syncing. You can even create a Smart Playlist in iTunes that automatically places certain podcasts on the iPod. Another tip for listening to podcasts on an iPod shuffle is to organize your iTunes playlist by Date Added. That way the newest (or oldest--your pick) episodes are played first.
And a note for podcasters: Without a screen, it's important for audio to be immediately recognizable. It's always nice when podcasts identify themselves within the first 10 seconds so you know which podcast and which episode you're listening to.