10 Top Hat Tips for a More Engaging Semester

Engagement. Equity. Effectiveness. These are the principles that Top Hat was built upon—no matter the course format, modality or discipline. To support you in making learning fun and effective for every student, we’ve added a number of features to our platform over the years. Below, we’ve rounded up ten of these unique capabilities within Top Hat that are sure to help the way you lecture, assess and grade.

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1. Assign homework to specific students

Shore up learning gaps sooner rather than later. With personalized data delivered to your inbox every week, identify which students didn’t answer discussion or poll questions in your lecture and re-assign your PowerPoint slides to this group as homework. This will give students a chance to refresh themselves on your material, which may prove especially beneficial for those who weren’t able to join your class live. Learn more about assigning homework to specific students here.

2. Make your discussion and poll questions media-rich

Give students an interactive assessment experience. You may know how to add videos or simulations to your Pages, but you can also directly embed media into your quiz questions. Not only will students get a more dynamic, immersive learning experience, they’ll get an opportunity to consume your course material in a different medium. Plus, using videos in your quiz questions makes for a more engaging alternative to the static Scantron or multiple-choice test. Learn more about using videos in questions or discussions here.

3. Give students a blank canvas to show what they know

The principle of ‘show, don’t tell’ holds true in the higher ed classroom. Let your students respond to a discussion with a drawing—allowing learners to visually express their understanding of course concepts. This feature works wonders in disciplines like economics, where drawing supply and demand curves may be more effective than asking students to express these trends in words. Discover how to let students respond using a drawing here.

4. Offer line-by-line feedback on document submissions

Enjoy feedback functionality that will be familiar to those who regularly use Google Docs. Using our file submission question, students are able to upload PDFs, lab templates or spreadsheets to Top Hat. Take your feedback to another level by offering annotated comments at various points in PDF or image submissions. This level of detailed commentary allows students to fully understand their own learning gaps, while giving you an opportunity to flag specific areas for improvement in advance of a high-stakes assessment. Learn more about how to leave detailed feedback in PDF file submissions here.

5. Measure comprehension of the same concept over time

If you’re preparing students for an exam and want to check their understanding of tricky concepts multiple times, this feature is for you. Compare student comprehension over a period of your choosing by keeping a record of responses to the same question asked more than once. After enabling this feature, you’ll be able to compare responses submitted on date X with date Y, seeing what percentage of students answered a particular way and letting you adapt your instruction accordingly. Explore how to create multiple question report sessions for your next quiz here.

6. Annotate your slideshow with whiteboard sketches

Sometimes, visually explaining a new concept can be easier than describing it in words. Top Hat’s Whiteboard Sketch tool allows you to insert blank slides into your slideshow, which you can then draw on in real time. For instance, complement a presentation on mitosis by drawing out the various stages live, answering student questions along the way. This tool doesn’t just allow for richer, more detailed discussions, it ensures students get a visual depiction of challenging concepts before moving on to your next topic. Learn how to embed interactive elements into your slides here.

7. Embed iFrames to create a truly interactive learning experience

Tailor your learning materials to the needs of Generation Z. When creating assessments, homework or customizing chapter readings in Pages, use iFrames to link to media such as podcasts, websites, simulations and GIFs. Open the interactive toolbar in your page, select the iFrame option and paste your desired link in the field. Learn how to embed iFrames in your course content here.

8. Use Presenter View to view personal notes and real-time responses

In a single view, get all the information you need to deliver a high-quality presentation. Use Presenter View to get a second screen that’s only accessible to you. View lecture notes that you added into your slide deck and get a live report of students’ responses as they answer questions live. Plus, preview which slide is next—and shift your conversation with students accordingly. Explore the power of Presenter View in helping you deliver an impactful slideshow here.

9. Save time building and managing exams with Assessment Space

Assessment time shouldn’t be daunting for your students—or you. Assessment Space is a new test creation tool that will allow you to import questions from your courses, create new questions, delete and adjust question point values in bulk and randomize questions for easy exam versioning. Plus, for select titles, you can access a pre-built question bank tagged by criteria such as chapter, difficulty, and Bloom’s Taxonomy level to promote higher-order thinking. Students also enjoy peace of mind when writing a test. Answers to exam questions are now automatically saved and will be turned in when an exam closes (even if the student doesn’t complete their full test). Students will be able to mark certain questions ‘for review’ during their test, ensuring they don’t waste their precious time on difficult questions up front. Read more about our latest assessment advancements here.

10. Keep your course textbook fresh and relevant with in-app content updates

Give students a learning experience that mirrors the world around them. Incorporate the latest content updates without losing any customizations in your interactive Top Hat textbook. You’ll be alerted whenever new author-created content is available for your text and will be given a chance to review all updates before accepting or rejecting them. This functionality ensures that educators have access to the latest content when it becomes available, on their own terms. In-app content updates are currently available in beta format for select Top Hat textbooks. Discover how our content enhancements make it easy to keep any textbook up-to-date here.

→ Make teaching more meaningful, personalized and equitable with Top Hat


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