Top Hat

By Bradley Jones

Education is becoming more interactive as technology advances. As the lives of students change, educators have to find ways to connect with them and teach them effectively. Iowa State has used a number of different programs to make the interaction between students and educators simple including Blackboard and Turnitin. It’s latest addition, Top Hat, is now used in a number of classrooms across campus. While it can make college easier, many students are not fans of how the program is being forced onto them.

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Top Hat being used in a class to take attendance

Top Hat is a program similar to blackboard that requires a login and has an app available. Through Top Hat, professors are able to record attendance, issue assignments, post lecture notes, and engage in conversation with students. It allows students to use what they often bring to class (a computer and phone) to do work for the class.

Prior to Top Hat, clickers were used in class to answer questions and record attendance. One of the reasons that method has been replaced is because instructors felt that students weren’t coming to class. They were instead giving their clickers to others who go to class and still receiving points. Iowa State sophomore Jacob Hilton says that the Top Hat isn’t doing a good job of motivating him to go to class. “The assignments that we do on Top Hat, I can do from home. If anything this keeps me from going to class more.”

Hilton also doesn’t like certain features including the grading system. “I prefer the clickers. The Top Hat grading system is confusing and the clickers went straight to blackboard.”

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Many students enjoy the convenience of Top Hat including Nathan Roby. “Not having to worry about losing your clicker makes life easier. I went through a couple of (clickers) last year. It’s nice to be able to use it on your phone because most students don’t leave their homes with theirs.”

Roby’s only complaint was the cost, “clickers cost maybe $30 or $40. A subscription to Top Hat was nearly double that.”

Convenience is something that a number of students praise the app for and is why they have accepted the change. There are some issues within the program that people are unhappy with or some are just not fans of the program itself. It hard for any new thing to catch on immediately and this may apply to Top Hat. The program could stick, but will likely be replaced with whatever the next best thing is.

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