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Increase Student Engagement with the Top Hat Lecture Platform

by Matthew Baggetta on July 16, 2015



When education technology software providers reach out to me and can share interesting, affordable tools that they can back up with teacher testimonials, I’m willing to hear what they have to say. If the product interests me, I offer to let them provide an original article to share with EmergingEdTech readers. The folks from Top Hat reached out recently, and I thought this was a product worth sharing. Note that the pricing model is based on inexpensive student subscriptions (a particularly interesting approach if the platform is used to help displace a costly textbook). – KW

Top Hat is the leading student engagement platform that makes lectures more engaging for students and easier on professors. The Top Hat platform makes running your lecture easier than ever, with features such as attendance, real time student feedback, in-class discussions and more.

We’ve highlighted some of the key features below:

Makes facilitating quizzes quick and taking up results instantaneous

Asking a Top Hat question in class gives professors cumulative metrics to gauge student comprehension in real time. Students’ responses are automatically recorded in the Gradebook and can be made anonymous for polling. There are six types of questions for professors to choose from: Multiple Choice, Word Answer, Numeric Answer, Sorting Problems, Matching Problems, and Click on Target.


Tracks attendance with minimal effort

Top Hat’s Attendance Module helps professors quickly and easily track students’ attendance and takes care of all the tedious tabulation. Clicking the “Take Attendance” button generates a 4-digit code, which is only visible on the professor’s screen. This means only students who are in class are able to submit attendance.

Students may check in for attendance by either texting the attendance code to the Top Hat phone number, or by entering it into the provided field from their laptop or mobile device. Attendance data is stored in the Gradebook where it can be easily reviewed, managed or exported to an Excel spreadsheet by professors.


Encourages vibrant, candid and relevant in-class discussions

Top Hat’s Discussions Module allows professors to ask students subjective and interpretive questions that may not have a simple or absolute answer. You can also use the Discussions Module to receive real-time, written feedback during lectures by allowing students to seek clarification or by helping peers respond to each others questions. Discussions can be worth grades (correctness and/or participation) or just used as a forum for course-related dialogue.


What Professors are Saying

“I just have to say that I’ve been thoroughly impressed from the “get go.” We used your competitor “Poll Everywhere” in our classes last year and it was an absolute disaster. They just didn’t “get” academics/higher education and their customer service was atrocious. Tophat has vastly superior product and top notch customer service…Have to hand it to you guys…simply outstanding!” – Russell Wilke, Angelo State University

“I very much enjoyed using Top Hat this semester. This technology offered much better engagement with the class than what I have tried in the past. I especially enjoyed having the participation score of the course done for me by Top Hat. Via Top Hat, I am better able to identify if/when a student begins to lose engagement and then intervene earlier and more effectively.” – Kane Jennings, Vanderbilt University

“Students are so hooked on their phones, laptops, etc., and that rather than trying to fight that passion, I wanted to incorporate it in the classroom. Top Hat allows me to do that and to engage my students in new ways.” – Ivelina (Eva) Tchizmarova, Simon Fraser University

Top Hat Demo Video:

Click here to learn more about how you can use Top Hat in your classroom


Matthew is the Community Specialist at Top Hat, a mindfulness practitioner, writer and a digital cultural theorist. He loves helping teachers become techno-literate, creative pioneers of 21st century pedagogy. Matthew also has a goldfish named Lotus who is rambunctious and always hungry.

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