To derive value from their courses, students need to be actively engaged in their learning. A learning management system (LMS) provides professors and students with valuable academic infrastructure, housing course rosters and grades. However, an active learning platform, such as Top Hat, is a necessity in order to elevate the learning experience for your students. Creating a dynamic course that is customized to suit individual student needs helps foster a sense of belonging and community.

Here’s how pairing your LMS with Top Hat’s suite of interactive tools empowers you to engage your students, wherever learning takes place.

The power of data

Data is a powerful tool you can use to inform, engage, and create opportunities for students—and it extends far beyond test scores. Data helps instructors make connections that lead to insights and assist in critical skill development. When instructors use data to drive their decisions and lecture plans, they are able to respond to student challenges more effectively, construct engaging assessments to test student understanding and reach curriculum objectives faster.

Top Hat’s newly updated gradebook—which syncs directly to your LMS—allows instructors to monitor student progress throughout the term. Tracking attendance and participation can help identify anybody falling behind. The Weekly Course Report makes it easy for professors to act on students’ needs and insights—and allows you to easily reach out via email to students who need help.

Enjoy a gradebook that does the work for you

Why it’s important: Grading is an integral part of the teaching and learning experience. But let’s face it, it can be time-consuming and tedious, especially if you have a lot of manual entries to input into your LMS. Unfortunately, this leaves students waiting days or up to weeks to get feedback on their progress, which ultimately provides a poor learning experience.

As higher education modernizes to keep up with its increasingly tech-savvy learners, students are expecting an impactful, engaging learning experience, including frequent updates on how they are doing. With real-time insight into student understanding and performance via grades from assessments and participation, it is easier for educators to support their students—and for students to monitor their progress as well.

Put it into practice with Top Hat: Your LMS can remain the one source of truth for all your grades. However, with Top Hat’s automatic grading on formative and summative assessments, built-in reporting functionality, and the ability to sync grades directly to your LMS, it’s easy to obtain and provide students with real-time insights to help them track their progress and learn from their mistakes. To do this in Top Hat, simply present or assign some of Top Hat’s auto-graded question types such as multiple choice, click on target or matching to your students. Their responses and corresponding grades will automatically be recorded in Top Hat’s gradebook for both you and your students to access, eliminating the hassle of manually inputting grades.

Top Hat’s gradebook isn’t just for storing marks of student assessments. It is a repository of every digital interaction between instructors and students. With one click, you can view individual student attendance reports or class-wide question reports that are intuitive and easy-to-read.

You can also easily transfer your students’ data in the gradebook to your LMS by syncing directly or exporting the data into a spreadsheet. You can use the customize menu in the gradebook to adjust the grades so that they match up with the reporting in your course. For example, you can view grades as points or percentages and see correctness and participation data separately or in aggregate.

To learn more about Top Hat’s gradebook, click here.

Benefit from weekly student progress reports

Why it’s important: In any learning environment, providing frequent and thoughtful feedback to students is crucial to ensure they feel a sense of belonging and connection with the course. Frequent “comprehension checks” are an effective way to maintain structure in your course while providing students with opportunities to apply what they know. As an instructor, recurring assessments should give you insights on which students are at risk. Instructors can then harness this data to offer support to struggling students to help them get back on track by checking in with them early and often. You can view this data in your LMS, but Top Hat takes it one step further, as you’ll see below.

Put it into practice with Top Hat: The Weekly Course Report uses data aggregated by the gradebook to identify top (and bottom) performers. The report, sent weekly and delivered directly to your inbox, indicates correctness scores per question and flags low-performing students, inviting you to email them to offer support. This helps instructors tailor future lectures or provide more resources on topics where their students are struggling. It also surfaces who may be in the most need of your assistance before a test. To receive a Weekly Course Report through Top Hat, make sure to ask your students at least five questions with a correct answer each week.

To ensure the report accounts for all students in your class, it’s important to sync or upload your course roster from your LMS into your Top Hat student manager at the beginning of the semester. To learn more about syncing your roster, click here.

Incorporate active learning into your lectures—and track student engagement in your LMS

Why it’s important: It can be hard to keep students engaged let alone get a true understanding of how learners are comprehending course content. By introducing active learning techniques into live lectures, whether online or in-person, you can help bridge this gap. This can include a range of activities such as icebreakers at the beginning of your class, comprehension check questions interspersed throughout content or more collaborative activities such as real-world case studies and debates to ensure students have ample opportunity to apply their learning to the real-world. Static learning materials can be distributed through your LMS, but as you’ll read, Top Hat can provide a more streamlined learning environment.

Put it into practice with Top Hat: In Top Hat, you can upload slides, create questions and embed multimedia so that everything is in one place for students to access. Depending on your course delivery, you can present these materials to students in real-time or assign it as homework for them to complete on their own. If you are teaching online, you can also use Top Hat’s virtual classroom tools to replicate the classroom environment. With video streaming and a live chat, students can simultaneously listen to you speak while asking clarifying questions or reacting to content with emojis.

With over 14 question types, including click on target and multiple-choice, you can easily engage students in interactive ways. Simply click on questions in your content tree and drag them anywhere in your presentation, allowing you to incorporate active learning by mixing in a question every 5–10 minutes of content delivery. These grades are automatically tracked through Top Hat’s gradebook and can be easily synced with the LMS later on as an in-class participation grade.

Use interactive textbooks and content to engage students outside the classroom

Why it’s important: Digital course materials are an easy way for instructors to complement what they do in the online or in-person classroom. This includes the use of multimedia and interactive elements that keep students engaged and focused on the task at hand.

Digital courseware makes online learning more engaging and helps professors understand whether or not students are completing readings and homework assignments. Interspersing comprehension questions throughout textbook readings and homework assignments allows instructors to understand how students are progressing and which concepts are proving difficult and may require more attention in future lecture content.

Put it into practice with Top Hat: In Top Hat, you can create interactive and engaging content that’s packed with assignments, readings, and more. To do this, simply craft a page using the create menu and use the visual and interactive toolbar to embed multimedia and other elements such as assessments, videos, animations and questions. In your LMS, you may link out to helpful articles and resources, but in Top Hat, you can embed these elements directly in your course text, providing students with everything they need to know in one place.

As students progress through their readings, their responses are tracked in the Top Hat gradebook, providing you with valuable insight into their completion and comprehension—something you wouldn’t get with a traditional textbook or links in your LMS. That said, you can easily sync this data as well to your LMS. To learn how to start creating your own interactive content, click here.

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