What is Top Hat?
Top Hat is a “bring your own device” (BYOD) classroom response system that makes use of students’ personal mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops) as response devices. BYOD systems offer a number of logistical and pedagogical advantages over traditional, “clicker”-based systems.
Classroom response systems are educational technologies that allow instructors to rapidly collect and analyze student responses to questions posed during class. Such systems have been used at Vanderbilt for more than a decade, and they have been shown to increase student participation and engagement during class.
Top Hat at Vanderbilt
Top Hat is the first classroom response system to be adopted campus-wide at Vanderbilt. Top Hat will be available to faculty, students, and staff across campus starting July 2017. Instructors teaching with “clickers” are invited to consider Top Hat for in-class student polling.
Top Hat was selected by a trans-institutional working group consisting of more than 40 faculty, students, and staff, organized by the Center for Teaching during the 2015-16 academic year. The group identified a number of useful features of Top Hat in its recommendation:
- Support for both multiple-choice and free-response polling questions, including a number of different question types;
- Compatibility with PowerPoint for integrating polling questions with slides, along with the ability to run questions on top of any presentation software;
- Student response options via mobile devices including Web, text messaging, and a dedicated mobile app;
- Options for sharing polling questions, response distributions, and correct answers with students for review after class; and
- Integration with Vanderbilt single sign-on and Brightspace grade center.
The Center for Teaching will serve as the administrative home for Top Hat at Vanderbilt, and will coordinate training and support. Look for opportunities this summer to learn more about Top Hat and to get ready to use it in your classroom this fall. Questions about the Top Hat adoption? Contact CFT educational technologist Rhett McDaniel.