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What is Top Hat?
Top Hat is a student engagement platform that professors use inside and outside of the classroom. Top Hat provides a lecture tool that tracks attendance, asks questions, features interactive slides, and manages classroom discussions. Take a moment to watch the video to learn more about Top Hat.
Top Hat is a platform for building and conducting interactive slideshow presentations -- through a built-in student-response system, students can use their own mobile devices to take part in ongoing, live assessments during a lecture. Some possible uses of Top Hat include:
- Flip your classroom
- Gamify lessons
- Energize discussions
- Take attendance and build engagement directly in students’ devices
- Leverage students' devices in class to increase participation
- Upload your slides easily and add interactive questions
- Take attendance effortlessly and prevent absent students from bending the rules
- Manage all lecture materials and interactive questions online
- Upload your slides and animations directly into Top Hat Classroom and organize as needed
- Embed interactive polling questions between your slides to create one seamless presentation aligned to your lecture plan
- Choose from various interactive question types: multiple choice, word answer, numeric answer, fill-in-the-blank, matching, click-on-target, sorting and more
- Streamline lecture prep by importing free interactive questions from the Top Hat Marketplace
1. Getting Started
1.1 - Creating Your Account and Course
- The first step to using Top Hat is to create an account, followed by a course. The entire process from start to finish should take no more than 2-3 minutes. Simply navigate to tophat.com, click the "Signup" button, and then identify that you want to create a professor's account.
You'll start by selecting your school and then enter your account details. For a more detailed look at this process please see here: Professor: Creating Your Account and Courses
To manage your account settings down the line, such as changing your username or password, please see here: Professor: Editing your Account Settings
Your initial course will be created during the registration process. After entering your university and account details, you will be prompted to create your first course. When you complete the registration process, you will be taken into your newly created course! To manage your course settings, such as changing the name of your course, please see here: Professor: Editing your Course Settings
1.2 - Creating Additional Courses
- If you’re teaching multiple sections of the same course, we highly recommend that you create one Top Hat course for each section. This will make it easy to manage each group of students individually. If you’re teaching the same course but in a different semester, we also recommend creating a new copy of the course to keep the old section’s information intact.
Clicking on "COURSES" will take you to your course lobby where you can view your list of Top Hat courses and create any additional courses you may need. To create an additional course, simply click the blue "Create Course" button in the upper right hand corner and a course creation dialogue box will appear. Enter the required details and click "Create" to create the new course and proceed.
1.3 - Course Interface
- After entering your course you will be presented with the course home page or interface. This is the web-based console from which you will primarily access your Top Hat course for the purposes of creating content, monitoring your course roster, and tracking the gradebook.
1. Course Identifiers - in the upper left hand corner you will find important course access information such as the name and join code of the course you are currently in
2. Course Header - from here you can navigate between your course content, gradebook to view or export your students' grades, or the students tab to monitor your Top Hat course roster
3. Help - clicking the question mark icon in the upper right hand corner of your course interface will give you access to our Success Center support resources
4. Settings - clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner will provide you with the options to adjust your course settings, adjust your account settings, add a co-professor or teaching assistant, or logout
5. Create Button - clicking this button will provide you with a variety of Top Hat content in which you can select and create
6. Content Dashboard or Tree - a list of all of the content currently created in your Top Hat course
7. Preview Pane - clicking on any item in your content dashboard will reveal it in this area providing you with the opportunity to preview it before presenting it or assigning it to students. You can click Hide Preview to minimize this pane too if you wish.
2. Creating Content
Once you have a course, the next step is to start populating your course with content that you will use to engage your students. Simply click the blue "Create" button in the upper left hand corner of your course screen and then select the type of content you would like to create.
2.1 - Question
Interactive Top Hat questions allow you to break up your lectures and engage your students. No matter how large or small your class is, asking a Top Hat question will give you cumulative statistics for student responses and automatically record individual student grades. You can set a correct answer, ask a polling question, or even set the question as anonymous for those more controversial subject matters! There are multiple different question styles available for you within Top Hat. More on creating Top Hat questions is available here: Professor: Top Hat Questions
2.2 - Discussion
Top Hat’s discussions module is incredibly versatile, allowing you to ask students subjective and interpretive questions that may not have a simple or absolute answer, gaining real-time feedback during lectures by allowing students to seek clarification, and facilitating dialogue between students, to name just a few! More on creating Top Hat discussions is available here: Professor: Creating Discussions
2.3 - Upload File
Top Hat's upload file feature allows you to upload your saved files to Top Hat and share them with your students. Once uploaded, files can be made available for your students to download onto their local devices. More on uploading files to Top Hat is available here: Professor: Uploading Files for Student Download
2.4 - Folder
Placing your Top Hat course content into folders allows you to easily organize your content by lecture, chapter, subject matter, or any other relevant category. This allows you to quickly locate and retrieve your content when you need it! A more detailed look at folders is available here: Professor: Folder Management
2.5 - Take Attendance
Although you can take attendance when presenting your content in class, you can also use the take attendance option to take attendance on the fly without presenting content if you would like. More on our attendance feature is available here: Professor: Taking Attendance
2.6 - Upload Slides
Uploading your still/static PowerPoint or PDF lecture slides into Top Hat allows for a seamless integration, as you can insert your Top Hat questions and discussions directly into the presentation! More on uploading your slides into Top Hat is available here: Professor: Uploading and Managing Slide Presentations
2.7 - Whiteboard Sketch
Many of our professors choose to use our annotations feature (Professor: Annotating your Slides) to mark up their slides, and now we have added the ability to create a blank slide to a presentation. In the list of your course content, simply click on the item immediately preceding the location where you would like to insert the blank slide, and then select the Whiteboard Sketch option. More on slides is available here: Professor: Uploading Slide Presentations and Professor: Managing Slide Presentations
2.8 - Pages
Top Hat Pages allows you to develop interactive digital documents with amazing functionality! Alongside your text you can embed pictures, videos, and Top Hat questions and discussions! More on creating Top Hat pages content is available here: Professor: Creating a Pages Content Item
2.9 - Top Hat Test
Top Hat Test allows you to securely administer tests and quizzes in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment, using Top Hat’s proprietary lock-out capabilities! More information on Top Hat Test is available here: Professor: Getting Started With Top Hat Test.
Web: Access Top Hat on an updated version of Google Chrome or Firefox.
Mobile: Make sure you have the latest version of the Top Hat iOS or Android app downloaded.
Top Hat support is available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. (CST) at email@example.com or 1-888-663-5491
How do Professors create an Account and Course?
1. Go to www.tophat.com, and click Signup.
2. Click Sign-up as a Professor.
3. Type Wentworth Institute of Technology and then click Next.
When creating a professor account for the first time you will also have to create your first course. You can create as many courses as you like, so naming the first one “practice course” or “sandbox” is a great idea, as you start to learn how to use Top Hat. If you already have an account, but would like to create a new course, go to the main page for your account and click Create a course.
For more information, see Top Hat's Knowledge Base.
Is there information Professors can put on their syllabus?
Yes. See the Professor: Syllabus Information knowledge base article. You will see some standard language that you can use for your syllabus. Make sure to include the specific URL or Join Code for your Top Hat course. You can also include a link to the Student: Quick Start Guide.
How do Professors add a TA or Co-instructor?
You can add multiple TAs or co-instructors to your course. Your TA or co-instructor will need to visit tophat.com and create a professor account, and then you can invite them to your course via your course setting (the gear icon, in the top right hand corner of the screen).
You’ll need to invite them using the same email they used when creating their professor account.
Co-instructors and TAs have the same access that you do to your course, including making, editing questions, accessing and adjusting student grades.
For more information, see Top Hat’s Knowledge Base.
How do Professors make Questions / what kinds of Questions are available?
Each question starts with a default value of 1 point that you can adjust per question (0.5 correctness + 0.5 participation) or by setting a new default for your course as a whole. There are six basic question types that you can create and it’s best to visit success.tophat.com and use the app’s live chat for specific questions.
Follow these best practices:
- Use folders to group questions and lectures together. This will make reading your Gradebook and grading itself much easier.
- Every question type can be used as a “polling” question, free of correctness points and even without a correct answer set.
- All questions can be adjusted after they’ve been created and used in class, if necessary, in case grades need to be adjusted, a student missed an item, or you’d like to add alternative answers.
How do Professors take attendance?
Attendance can be taken as often as you like. You can start a lecture presentation with Attendance when presenting slides to the class, or choose “Quick Attendance” by clicking the Create button.
Note: Top Hat has a new “secure attendance” feature, which uses a combination of geo-location and proximity detection to determine which students are actually in class.
How do Professors Present with Top Hat?
Top Hat has two presentation methods: uploaded PowerPoint or PDF files directly to your course, or using a desktop application call the Presentation Tool, which you can download from your course lobby under “Tools & Apps”.
- If you use Apple Keynote, export your file as a PDF and retain “Slide builds” for the best experience.
- If you use simple animations like bullet points appearing one at a time, then uploading files to Top Hat is best.
- If you use more complicated animations, or present with many different kinds of media in your class, then the Presentation Tool is best.
You cannot build any questions in the Presentation Tool. Building questions should still be done in your account on tophat.com. The Presentation Tool will float on your screen and work seamlessly with any presentation style; however, there are some features (e.g. presenting as a “quiz”) that are only available in the web, and not via the desktop application.
How do Professors use the Top Hat Gradebook
Top Hat’s Gradebook collects all information about student responses, as they submit them. It updates live, so students will know exactly what grade they are getting for the Top Hat portions of your course.
The Gradebook will reflect the folder structure of your course content. A structure like: Week 1 / Lecture 1, Week 2 / Lecture 1, and so on, is the best way to organize your content for reading the Gradebook.
All grades can be adjusted by professors and co-instructors.
All information is visible to you for the class as a whole and for individual students.
Professors can leave a note about excused absences in the Attendance tab.
How do Professors assign content?
Content can be assigned three ways. You can select a single or multiple items at once, and then assign them in one of the following ways:
Live in class by clicking “Present” (also known as Presentation mode).
For graded homework via the Assign dropdown menu.
You can set a schedule for when homework can be accessed, and even assign to individual students.
For review, after assignments are complete, via the Assign dropdown menu.
The Review status lets students see the right answer, practice answers, and will not be graded. You can even add “hints & explanations” to your questions for this purpose.
What are Pages and Pages content?
Pages is a Top Hat module that professors use to build interactive homework content. You can combine text, videos, questions, discussions, images, and the like, to build a truly unique assignment for your course. Professors interested in flipping the classroom, or creating more innovative and interactive classroom materials should use Pages in their Top Hat course.
You can copy/paste from other words processors to Pages but some formatting will be lost.
Use the “special elements” menu (Blue button with a Plus sign) to import or create material into Pages.
Pages cannot be assigned live in class, only for homework outside of class (this is to ensure the Wifi in the lecture hall isn’t overloaded).
Note: Professors can use Pages to embed a video within a Slideshow, if they like. Pages is flexible and you can do quite a bit with it.
Students are having connectivity issues, what can I do?
Students should address all connectivity issues to firstname.lastname@example.org, and not their professor. To avoid connectivity issues, students should only connect one device at a time to the network in the classroom, and refrain from downloading or updating the app in class. Finally, if a students can submit answers via SMS text messages if they are having difficulty connecting to the WiFi in the room.
Please review Top Hat’s documentation on connectivity options and solutions (Top Hat - Connectivity Options – FACULTY).
There are several variables that can affect the WiFi data usage in a classroom.
The key factors are:
Number of students.
How they connect their devices to Top Hat (WiFi or Cell).
Which device they have (iOS, Android, Laptop, Tablet, etc).
How long the faculty presentation is – how many slides, how many images, how many questions.
Top Hat tested the platform’s data usage with a small number of uses and the below measurements reflect the download (to the device) of that test:
Small Presentation (6 slides)
iOS 1.53 MB
Android 493 KB
Large Presentation (64 slides)
iOS 6.89 MB
Android 6.30 MB
Question with image
iOS 420 KB
Android 268.1 KB
Again, all connectivity issues should be reported to email@example.com.
Web: Access Top Hat on an updated version of Google Chrome or Firefox.
Mobile: Make sure you have the latest version of the Top Hat iOS or Android app downloaded.
How do Students create an account?
Go to app.tophat.com/register/student/ and enter the 6-digit join code for your course. Registration can be done via a computer or by the Top Hat App, but payment methods are accepted on the web only. The code can be found in several areas including your course syllabus, the invite from your professor, the web address your professor is presenting, or at the beginning of each presentation.
How do Students find the course?
Your professor will provide you with the unique 6-digit join code (e.g. 123456) for your course. Click "Add a Course" button after logging in to Top Hat using either Google Chrome or Firefox, and enter the join code.
Top Hat says “My email is in use” when students try to create an Account
Go to app.tophat.com, select your school and try logging in with that email. If you can't login in, click Reset Password.
Student subscription expired/getting reminders to create an account
Log out of Top Hat on all devices. Using Chrome or Firefox, log into Top Hat at app.tophat.com with the email address you used when paying for Top Hat. Make sure you are logging into Top Hat on all of your devices with the same email. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-888-663-5491.
If your subscription expired, log onto Top Hat via the web (Chrome, Firefox, etc), and using a credit card purchase your desired subscription.
I’m having trouble submitting responses in class or getting connectivity errors?
There are several tips and tricks you can try, they are here. After trying these, if the issue persists, please let your professor know and submit a support ticket via email@example.com 1-888-663-5491 (8am - 8pm CT)
Professor has assigned Homework; where can I find it?
In many cases professors may assign homework or assign content for review. Content that has been assigned won’t show up as a notification but will be highlighted within app under the “Assigned” tab. Questions can be resubmitted until the question has been closed by the professor or unassigned.
We encourage you to take a moment to watch how Chris Brigham has integrating Top Hat in his course design.
Please contact Learning Innovation & Technology for assistance using this product in your course. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, stop by Beatty 318, or call 617-989-5428.