The to-do list at the start of every semester is always long: there are lectures to be planned, slides to be made, tests to be written and the never ending challenge of learning a new set of names. Course prep might seem daunting—especially when implementing a new tech platform—but Top Hat makes designing a course easy. Here’s a checklist of everything you need to know about using Top Hat in your classroom this semester.

Choosing a textbook
To spare students from bank account woes and back problems, many professors have set aside five pound paper textbooks in favour of digital ones, which can be accessed from anywhere and often include interactive features, like video modules and mini quizzes. Top Hat offers digital textbooks on hundreds of subjects—from Plato’s Republic to chemical kinetics—and finding the right one in the online marketplace is just as easy as ordering a New York Times bestseller on Amazon. Each textbook is fully customizable, so there’s no need to burn through an entire pad of sticky notes while trying to plan which readings to assign this semester.

Building your lecture slides
Instead of trying to make your PowerPoint slides more engaging by switching the typeface from Times New Roman to Helvetica (or worse, Comic Sans), Top Hat allows you to mix things up with multimedia and custom interactive questions. The cloud-based, drag-and-drop editor makes preparing lecture slides easy, and PowerPoint users can import pre-existing slides to give their presentations a mini makeover. Top Hat slides can also be synced with phones and laptops, so even the students who prefer to sit in the back row can more easily follow along.

Tracking student attendance
Research shows that students who come to classes get higher grades and end up being more successful than those who skip the occasional lecture. Instead of preparing attendance sheets for roll call at the beginning of each class, you can use Top Hat to automatically determine whether a student is present. Students sign in on their phones or laptops using a unique code, which is verified through geo tracking technology (that means anyone who decided to stay in bed instead of coming to class won’t be counted). Bonus: you can auto-assign an attendance grade to each student based on the semester’s collected data.

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Checking student comprehension
There’s no need to rack your brain on creative ways to engage your students this semester. TopHat allows you to pepper each lecture with polls and skill-testing questions so you can make sure everyone is following along (and understanding the material) instead of scrolling through Twitter. Professors looking for more ways to encourage their students to participate can use Top Hat to run real-time digital discussions during a lecture. Since students can participate anonymously, it’s the best way to ensure even those who don’t like raising their hands in class feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Creating tests and exams
Writing tests doesn’t need to turn into a test of patience. With Top Hat, you can prepare exams online in a matter of minutes (sans photocopying) by using pre-existing question packs or, if you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, by creating your own. All Top Hat tests are paperless and can be accessed online with a special code. If a student tries to cheat by opening another browser during the exam, they’ll be locked out. In addition to saving you time on the course preparation front, Top Hat also shaves hours off of marking with auto-grade. (Both you and the students can see test results instantly.)

Designing homework assignments
Similar to designing tests with Top Hat, you can also use the online platform in preparing homework assignments, either with pre-existing question packs or by importing your own. Top Hat gives students a more personalized experience through instant feedback, and auto-grading means you can toss out all of your red pens. All student progress on assignments (and tests) can be viewed in Top Hat’s online grade book.

Ultimately, preparing for a course doesn’t need to be stressful and time consuming. Top Hat creates a seamless, end-to-end course solutions platform, all these features makes teaching easy, engaging and effective. Click here to learn more about how to start using Top Hat in your classroom.