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Pedagogical Considerations for Top Hat Instructors
What is Top Hat?
Top Hat is a Student Response System (SRS). It allows instructors to create questions, polls, discussions and other interactive content to present in class. Students use their own devices to submit answers. Responses are instantly collected and can be shared with the class in graphics, if desired. Data are stored on the web for the instructors to review, manage, and sync with LMSs such as Canvas.
Why use an SRS?
In conjunction with good question design, the SRS can:
- Increase student engagement and document attendance.
- Facilitate peer learning and class discussion.
- Assess student learning efficiently on an ongoing basis.
- Reinforce key content.
- Gather opinions on sensitive topics in a confidential manner.
What can I do with Top Hat?
- Student Engagement and Classroom Interaction.
- Peer Instruction. Students can discuss their answers after the question result is displayed, or through a discussion session.
- Course material review. Besides presenting slides in class, instructors can also assign Top Hat content to the class for students to review on their own pace after class.
- Low stake assessment. Instructors can assign points questions and attendance. Self-paced responses is also available for in-class quizzes if desired.
NOTE: Using Top Hat or mobile devices for high-stake exams is NOT recommended, even with proctoring tools on the devices. Top Hat offers an add-on feature called Tests that can lock the Top Hat App down when students respond to questions. This feature charges the students with extra fees and has not been systematically tested at UMKC. Instructors are free to explore or use Tests, but ITS will not be able to provide support if issues occured.
How does Top Hat Compare to TurningPoint?
You will like Top Hat if you want an SRS that is:
- Easy to learn and use. Top Hat has a simple user interface to start with. It is web-based, which requires no software installation and file transfer. You just need to use a web browser to create, upload, or present content, and access them on any computer connected to the Internet.
- Easy to manage student data. Unlike in TurningPoint, instructors do not have to manually save session result to the computer hard drive. All the responses are recorded in your Top Hat courses in real time. Again, you can access the data with any computer with Internet connection.
- Easy for students to use. Top Hat is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system and does not require students to purchase another device. No worries about losing the clicker and having to re-register for it. One subscription allows a student to use any mobile devices in all Top Hat classes.
Things to be considered:
- The current version of Top Hat converts PPT slides into PDF format. Therefore, multimedia, smart art, or hyperlinks in your original PowerPoint slides will not be working after uploading to Top Hat. If you would like to use the original slides, use the Top Hat presentation tool instead of uploading to the web. Find out more here.
- Wi-Fi connection. Students will be using mobile devices that are connected to wireless network. In case when the connection is down or unstable, students can use their own cellular data (if possible), SMS text, or off-line mode to answer questions. Contact email@example.com if you are not sure about the Wi-Fi accessibility in your classroom.
- Some instructors might not like the idea of allowing students to use their smart phones in class. We suggest instructors to talk to a Top Hat instructional designer on the best practices to help students focus on course content.