The fall semester is looming and pressure is mounting on institutions to be ready to teach effectively, whatever the situation dictates: whether online, face-to-face or a combination of the two. Just as important is ensuring students see the value of investing their time and effort in courses that may need to be delivered online. Addressing these challenges—and reimagining just how much better online and blended courses can be—is at the heart of a major set of upgrades to the Top Hat platform: the launch of Top Hat Pro and our free Top Hat Basic offering.

Introducing Top Hat Pro

The shift to teaching online has been a challenge characterized by disjointed learning experiences delivered using mismatched and often poorly integrated tools. For most higher ed students, the transition has left much to be desired. Top Hat aims to change this equation.

Top Hat has always offered engaging tools for in-class and asynchronous learning. With the launch of Top Hat Pro, we’ve added new capabilities for interactive, online class meetings, independent student learning and secure, synchronous testing—all in one place. One of the most important guiding principles behind the new release is enabling educators to create and deliver an online course that drives real human connection and engagement. Here’s what’s new.

  • Make virtual classes more engaging: With access to centrally managed video streaming, live chat and moderation tools, we’re making it easy for professors to deliver engaging lectures and host lively, interactive class meetings. You can also embed animations, videos and quizzes into presentations, readings and assignments to engage students and improve learning inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Create lively lecture recordings: Accommodate students whatever their schedules by recording live lectures along with class discussions to recreate the “in-class” experience. Plus, easily create and record new videos designed for asynchronous learning—all within the Top Hat platform.
  • Ensure student accessibility: Automatic transcription and seamless lecture recording ensure students can review content from class meetings in the medium that’s best for them. Students can also participate and complete assignments in Top Hat from any device, ensuring coursework is accessible for everyone.
  • Run tests and exams remotely: Assign preset start and end times for your remote tests and use custom settings to accommodate individual needs. Take advantage of remote proctoring capabilities (available for an additional course fee) that verify test-taker identities and protect the integrity of high stakes exams.

If you are a Top Hat customer, you will automatically be upgraded to Top Hat Pro this fall.

If you are new to Top Hat Pro, expect to benefit from insights served up automatically to track student performance, provide timely feedback and intervene early with at-risk students. Plus, our instructional design team will work with you to create learning experiences that transition easily between online and face-to-face environments. We’ll ensure you are confident and ready for any teaching scenario come the fall semester.

Explore Top Hat Pro.

Introducing Top Hat Basic. Available completely free

For those who are new to Top Hat, we’re making a subset of our virtual classroom software features available free of charge. Through Top Hat Basic, educators can bring active learning to the virtual classroom by streaming live lectures, taking attendance, presenting slides, hosting discussions and recording presentations for later viewing. So what’s included?

  • Drive real-time virtual engagement: Take attendance, chat in real-time, host discussions and poll and quiz students with interactive questions to create a true virtual learning community.
  • Deliver online lectures with greater ease: Make remote teaching easier and more efficient by live-streaming lectures and presenting slides, all from one place.
  • Make presentation recordings come alive: Provide a live-replay of the in-class experience for later viewing. Enable students to participate in in-class discussions and answer quiz questions on their own time, as well as experience live chats as they happened during your presentation.
  • Get weekly student insights: Understand how students are progressing and identify those at risk with at-a-glance insights served up through the Top Hat Weekly Course Report.
  • Ensure student accessibility: Automatic transcription and seamless lecture recording ensure students can review content from class meetings in the medium that’s best for them.

The aim of Top Hat’s latest offerings is to enable educators to connect meaningfully with students, challenge them and turn every classroom, virtual or otherwise, into places of relevance, vitality and belonging. Getting the online learning experience right is more important than ever, which is one of the reasons we are making Top Hat Basic available free of charge.

Learn more about Top Hat Basic.

Watch the video below to see Top Hat CEO Mike Silagadze’s announcement on Top Hat Pro and Top Hat Basic:

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