here are as many deployment scenarios as there are apps in the App Store, so no one management method will work in all cases. One method, using Smart Playlists, we have explained here in the wiki
and have employed in several deployments. Using Smart Playlists allows the person managing the iPod devices (in many cases, the classroom teacher) to sync them to only one or a few Smart Playlists, and manage the sync content in iTunes and have those media sync changes happen across all the iPod devices managed by that iTunes library... rather than checking playlist checkboxes on and off for each of the devices individually.
Another method to achieve the same ends which is in use in several classroom and school deployments is to manage the sync content on the iPod touch (and other) devices using "nested playlists."
When managing your personal iPod, often you will set up different playlists so that you can easily access just the content you are looking for quickly. It is easy enough to set up a new playlist, with additional/new/reorganized content, and connect your iPod device to add it by clicking the checkbox in the proper tab in iTunes.
As you can imagine, however, checking and unchecking boxes on multiple tabs every time you wish to add another playlist for organizing content on a medium-to-large deployment would prove to be unwieldy. For some school-wide deployments, using a nested playlist approach is the best method for allowing individual teachers or grade levels to easily manage sync content and make it easy for the students using the iPod devices to find it.
Let's look at a possible deployment strategy, using nested playlists. Here you can see that Mr. Judd has his "own" playlist in iTunes on the syncing computer:
As you can see from the title of the playlist, Mr. Judd is a 2nd Grade teacher at this school.
He is sharing the set of iPod devices with another 2nd Grade teacher, so we give that teacher her own playlist:
Also, since they are teaching the same grade level, there are resources that they have agreed to both include as part of their curriculum, so they create another playlist that will include the media that they both want included:
As you can see, adding playlists like this could become a little messy with more teachers and more grade levels. So, to keep things tidy, we can put them into a Playlist Folder in iTunes, and we'll call it 2nd Grade:
We have now just created "nested playlists" by putting them into a folder. This folder can be chosen in iTunes when setting up which playlists to sync to your iPod devices, and now the teachers in 2nd Grade manage only the content in their own playlist (including audio, video, podcasts, etc.). In our example, we continue to add grade levels and teachers within nested folders:
Now, we "nest" all those folders, with their "nested" playlists by placing them in one main folder, naming it the same as the school named the iPod device cart:
Then from within iTunes, you can select that one folder in each of the tabs when choosing which playlists to sync on the iPod device. The advantage of using nested playlists in a single folder allows the teacher or the manager of the iPod devices to add and delete content from either their own playlist (like "Mr. Judd"), or create additional playlists and drop them into the main folder ("Green School iPod Cart 1"), and the iPod devices will sync properly without the need to fuss with the devices individually. These Playlist Folders can also include Smart Playlists
, so when they work in tandem, the need for manually checking and unchecking playlists on each device one at a time virtually disappears.
By utilizing this method, only the single main (top-level) folder has to be managed and synced: ONE folder that manages all the desired content for your iPod device deployment.