You wouldn’t normally expect students to have passionate opinions about their textbooks, let alone rave about them. But when Professor John Redden used Top Hat’s platform to build an interactive anatomy textbook for his class, 83% of his students said that it was “better than other books”—both interactive and digital—they’d ever tried before.

As assistant professor of Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut, Professor Redden taught for many years in very small and very large classes. His passion to be a better educator has led him to study the teaching and learning of anatomy and physiology itself. Top Hat’s track record with active learning and formative assessment prompted him to try the platform.

Redden is lead author for Anatomy & Physiology in Context, an interactive Top Hat textbook that contains 3D model diagrams that students can rotate and dissect, as well as embedded interactive questions and case studies. When he tried some initial chapters in class in combination with a traditional textbook, the response was enthusiastic.

One student wrote: “The interactive portions of the book made learning the material fun and also helped me to better understand it. I am completely a visual learner, so being able to see structures move and act as they do in real life made a huge difference for me.”

Other students compared it favorably to other interactive textbooks, adding that the ability to see others’ responses was particularly helpful.

After the success of the book last semester, Redden will use portions of his anatomy textbook in his Fall 2017 anatomy class of over 400, and will help to train a colleague in the platform so she can use it in her large class too.

Check out our Marketplace for more details, and to request a sample chapter.

Meet Prof. John Redden

Professor Redden is an Education Fellow of the National Academy of Science, and an attendee of the 2015 Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education. “This provided me with specialized training and resources to implement active learning pedagogies in my classes,” he says. “I am continuously seeking creative ways to engage students in and out of the classroom.”

If you’re going to our Engage 2017 conference in Chicago, October 1–2, Redden will be co-moderating a session on Refreshing Your Course Design and weighing in as a panelist on Finding Time for Professional Development.

He will also be moderating our How to Facilitate Active Learning in STEM panel, where you’ll hear practical advice on implementing active learning in STEM courses, which often present their own special challenges for engagement. Redden will be guiding a discussion with three top STEM educators who will, among other things, explain how physical changes to the classroom can help create more engagement, when it is appropriate to use technology and reveal steps they took that improved (or didn’t improve) their teaching.

For more details, a full agenda, and tickets, visit the Engage 2017 website.


Quin Parker

Quin Parker

Quin Parker is a Toronto-based digital editor and writer, and is Content Marketing Manager at Top Hat.