Top Hat: What students think, and on-campus visits

Students listen to a presenter

Published November 5, 2018

Written by Grace Golabek

Over 13,000 UB students are already using Top Hat in their classes. How do they compare it to other classroom response systems on campus?

Why classroom response systems?

Author

UBIT Student Ambassador Grace Golabek

Grace Golabek (UB student, Class of 2019) is a Business major with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. After graduating from UB, she hopes to attend law school, pursue a career as a civil rights attorney, and revive the trend of pink business suits. A Hamburg, NY native, Grace enjoys conspiracy theories and writing.

Classroom response systems enable students to use technology, whether a standalone clicker or their own laptops and mobile devices, to answer questions, give feedback and even take tests in class. This ideally promotes student engagement and active learning, by leveraging devices that can often be a distraction in large lectures for refocusing students on class.

But for students, cost is a factor. The cost of Top Hat was recently discounted for UB students--$23 for one semester, $34 annually or $68 for a four-year subscription--and the fact that Top Hat works without a standalone clicker device, which can cost students an extra $40-$80, depending on the model, makes it a less expensive option for students.

What do students think?

UBIT spoke with over 30 students who didn’t like standalone clicker systems. For one, having an additional device to carry around means you could lose or forget it. Then, there’s reliability.

“[Physical clickers] were slow, inaccurate, and frustrating to both the instructor and the class,” one student with experience with clickers said.

Most of the 33 students we interviewed felt that, when compared to a standalone clicker system, Top Hat is “less expensive, more convenient, and easier to use.”

Top Hat has additional features that students prefer as well. “You can review old questions, track your grades and access Top Hat on any device.”

One student said Top Hat’s best feature was that it “allows professors to ask open-ended questions,” and students can give detailed responses. “You can view the professor’s PowerPoint slides on Top Hat,” another student commented, making it easy to follow along with the lecture on their laptop.

Get started with Top Hat

If you are an instructor and would like more information about Top Hat, Top Hat offers one-on-one trainings and introduction sessions.

Email Drew Spicer from Top Hat at drew.spicer@tophat.com or schedule a call via his calendar at https://meetme.so/tophatDrew.