How ISU Faculty are using Top Hat

tophatTop Hat, a cloud-based, interactive teaching and learning platform for instructors and students, is now available for use at ISU. The Top Hat platform replaces clickers — the remote control-style devices used at ISU for the last 10 years. Top Hat was piloted at ISU during the 2015-16 academic year and was wellreceived by instructor and student users. Top Hat offers numerous excellent features, including:
  • Six types of questions for student responses
  • Synchronous and asynchronous modes of participation
  • Options for instant feedback via open-ended discussions
  • New ways for instructors to create interactive content and customize student access
  • For students, Top Hat allows for the use of students’ own smartphones, tablets, and computers. It is accessible via the Top Hat app and web browsers. Students may return their legacy clickers to the ISU Book Store for a $25 credit toward a Top Hat license.
Here is what faculty are saying about using Top Hat:
Getting Started with Top Hat
  • Lauren Westerdale, Student Services Specialist II and BEST Learning Community Coordinator (Biology) explained,”I would suggest anticipating questions your students may have and speaking with a Top Hat support staff member prior to your course start date so you feel comfortable addressing those questions. Also, consider reviewing the online tutorials offered for instructors,” and, “I particularly appreciate the anonymous response feature built into Top Hat questions and discussions, which allows students to more comfortably ask questions and provide honest feedback in a lecture hall setting.”
Faculty Experiences Using Top Hat in the Classroom
  • Jesudoss Kingston, Senior Lecturer (Chemistry) shared,”I like the option of presenting the questions from my iPad, which offers me opportunity to walk around the class and I don’t need to stand near the podium. Students seem to like it so far,” and, “I am not restricted to only traditional multiple choice questions. I have started using “matching items” “click on the target” type questions which is really great for chemistry courses.
  • Beth Caissie, Assistant Professor (Geological and Atmospheric Sciences) stated, “It lets me have an active class with 250 students. I wanted to use active learning in class and Top Hat enables this without requiring another hardware device,” and, “l really like the click on target questions. That option is awesome, especially for geology. I use it a lot, it is great for looking at maps. It also allows me to show the resulting heat map of students’ answers on the projector and talk about any misconceptions they might have . In addition, I like the word cloud display option for Word Answer questions. It helps students see what the consensus is for answers.”
For more information visit the Top Hat support site, including details on how to transition current content from TurningPoint 5 to Top Hat.
You can also learn more about the Top Hat and the transition from TurningPoint 5 in this Inside Iowa State story.