Preparing and curating a course takes a great deal of time and effort. But there’s a way to gain access to high quality course content and educational material that also saves time in course design.

Top Hat has taken three of the most time-consuming tasks undertaken by professors and made them simple and uncomplicated. Here are three ways professors can save time with the Top Hat platform.

Designing Your Course

Traditional textbooks have become ineffective and wasteful at engaging students in independent learning. Traditionally, when using hard copy textbooks, students progress through the chapters independently. While this lessens the workload on course instructors, this method lacks an effective way of determining whether students were actually engaging with and understanding the content. The Top Hat marketplace allows professors to source textbooks and interactive course content on one platform, and spend less time searching for adequate course materials and textbooks. With many resources all in one platform, professors can save time preparing for their course using Top Hat’s comprehensive database of educational materials. As Jessica Wooten, Associate Professor of Biology at Piedmont College, explains: “Top Hat is easy-to-use, intuitive, and provides an opportunity for diverse assessments for students. I really enjoy the interactive textbooks that are available.”

Time saved: Approximately 3-4 hours per semester

Creating and Grading Assessments

Top Hat textbooks also include short quizzes and assessments embedded within the reading material to assess student comprehension and ongoing engagement. This helps show the areas that students struggle with, enabling professors to save time later on by tweaking their lesson plans accordingly to focus on specific areas of the course that need further elaboration.

Joshua Osbourn, a chemistry professor at West Virginia University used to give weekly quizzes to his students to track their understanding of course material. However, this proved to be a labor-intensive and inefficient task, requiring hours of grading and preparation. Osbourn found Top Hat’s testing and classroom all-in-one platform to save time and allow for frequent updates on student progress, using a far more efficient process.

Automatically-graded regular assessments helped Osbourn evaluate student comprehension at the end of each unit. He also used Top Hat’s formative assessment function during class time, pausing his lectures to keep students engaged and stay updated on their understanding. To do this, Osbourn monitored their learnings in real time, adjusting lectures on-the-fly. This also helped save time in preparing for his next lecture, as he went into the class with an understanding of where his students were doing well and which course content areas need more focus for the following lecture. “The students like how it keeps them engaged in the material,” he says.

Top Hat also helps Osbourn manage his teaching workload and return results to his students. Generating quizzes and assessments saves Osbourn time writing the quiz and grading it, thanks to Top Hat’s auto-grading function, which grades students’ online quizzes as soon as students finish them and sends them their results immediately.

Time saved: 2–3 hours per assessment

Engaging Your Students

Troy Wood, an Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo who teaches analytical chemistry, has long had his students using clickers in class, but switched to Top Hat in 2012. Although not a digital native himself, Wood found the platform simple to navigate and used the tools Top Hat provided to uncover important student data that could make him a better teacher.

Wood no longer organizes class time around his lectures, but around student participation. He will ask as many participation questions as he can and will check the results in real time to keep his students engaged. This allowed his students to more actively engage in course material through group discussion and problem solving. “It turns out that by using the classroom response systems, I’ve become much more efficient in my lectures. I have actually gained time because of doing this,” he says. Wood used the time he gained to pay more attention to creating engaging assessments for his students, focusing on material he identified during his lecture that they had been struggling with.

Time saved: Approximately 1–2 hours per semester

Ultimately, Top Hat is a platform designed around the way professors teach—one that supports modern learning methods and makes them swift and straightforward to implement. 

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