Join us for two days of interactive faculty workshops and industry-leading keynotes
February 29 – March 1, 2024
The Westin New Orleans
100 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
*Attendance limited to the first 120 registrants
Education is the key to unleashing potential.
But that can’t happen without students—and professors—feeling supported and valued. How do we ensure our classrooms are places of community? Places that invite curiosity and discovery? Places where every student has the opportunity to share their voice and realize their aspirations? When it comes to improving the craft of teaching, Top Hat Engage is where learning belongs.
Why Attend Top Hat Engage New Orleans
Hear from higher ed changemakers leading the charge to ensure that every classroom is a place where students are welcomed, engaged and motivated to learn.
“I absolutely loved all of the speakers, they were incredibly inspiring. That was very different from the kinds of talks and workshops I usually attend and really valuable.”
“The presentations were terrific and it was so energizing to talk about great teaching strategies”
Teaching best practices
Attend peer-led workshops to learn how fellow instructors are using the power of evidence-based teaching practices to enhance community, engagement and student success.
Get to know—and learn from—
innovative educators in your discipline!
“The entire program was outstanding! I especially enjoyed sharing a meal with other professionals from the same teaching discipline.”
A fun and vibrant destination
Top Hat Engage New Orleans will be held at the waterfront Westin hotel located in the lively French Quarter, with views of the Mississippi River.
1:00 - 6:00 PM
1:00 - 4:00 PM
4:00 - 6:00 PM
6:30 - 9:30 PM
7:30 - 8:45 AM
9:00 - 10:00 AM
10:15 - 11:15 AM
11:15 - 11:45 AM
11:45 - 1:15 PM
1:15 - 3:00 PM
3:15 - 4:00 PM
4:00 - 6:00 PM
All times in CDT. Please note the agenda is subject to change.
Breakout Session Presenters
What to expect: The Westin New Orleans
Enjoy the vibrant French Quarter and riverfront views of the Mississippi River
Welcome & Teaching with Top Hat Workshops (Optional)
Learn to make the most of Top Hat—and earn your Innovative Educator Certification in the process! Delivered by our seasoned Instructional Design team, and grounded in evidence-based teaching practices, we'll show you how to leverage Top Hat to motivate and engage students, gather feedback and use data-driven insights to improve course design and delivery.
- Top Hat Instructional Design Team
Option 1: Foundations of Active Learning
Get hands-on as we explore making the most of Top Hat's core features. Learn to adopt, customize and create interactive content, and how to use Top Hat's assessment tools to see what students are understanding (or not understanding). Plus, we'll show you a variety of ways to engage your students before, during and after class.
- Basics of Top Hat course set up, organization and navigation
- Engaging students with polls, quizzes, and discussions
- Fostering peer-to-peer connection with AI and interactive content
Option 2: Digital Learning Experiences That Stick
Take your content creation to new heights by incorporating evidence-based teaching practices, including retrieval practice and interleaving. Get acquainted with Top Hat Ace, our AI-powered assistant, to easily create low stakes assessments based on the content you adopt or create. We'll also cover using Bloom's taxonomy to enhance assessment design, as well as generating real-time feedback to improve student outcomes.
- Designing media-rich assessments and homework assignments
- Creating high-impact learning during class
- Using content and course design to improve course insights and provide feedback to students
Option 3: Improving Student Outcomes with Aktiv Chemistry
Learn to use Aktiv Chemistry—a next-generation active learning platform built specifically for General Chemistry, Introductory Chemistry, GOB Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry courses. Aktiv Chemistry makes it easy to incorporate active learning in even the largest classrooms, allowing students to use any device to tackle interactive problem sets and receive tailored feedback to spur academic success.
- Get best practices for using Aktiv Chemistry to create activities and assessments that help students master essential concepts. Learn how to create problem solving exercises, homework assignments and quizzes. Plus see how Aktiv provides helpful feedback to keep students motivated and engaged throughout. Then get hands-on with a guided experience using the Aktiv Chemistry platform!
Option 4: Crafting and Customizing Content with Top Hat
In this workshop, we’ll explore Top Hat’s Authoring Space to craft a dynamic course that serves your unique teaching vision. Work alongside your peers and Top Hat Instructional Designers and learn how to easily customize your content to solve for your biggest course challenges.
To make the most of this session, bring your syllabus and a sample of course material you’d like to bring to life in Top Hat.
- Gain comprehensive insight into Top Hat's Custom offering, including the authoring tools and features available for customizing course content within the platform.
- Learn strategies for optimizing your content or tailoring Top Hat's national resources to align with your unique teaching vision and course objectives.
- Hear from a Custom Author as they share the impact and value of optimizing and delivering their course content with Top Hat.
Top Hat Product Demo Showcase & Learning Lounge
Test drive our latest features and connect with the team responsible for Top Hat's latest innovations. Spend one-on-one time with our Instructional Designers to ask questions and optimize your course experience. It's all about setting you—and your students—up for success!
Welcome Reception and Dinner
Connect with your peers over drinks, food, and live music (we're in New Orleans, after all) as we kick off the official start of the Top Hat Engage conference.
Welcome & Morning Keynote: Teaching in the Age of AI
Faced with a new disruptive technology, we often fail to examine the deep ethical and pedagogical questions early enough in order to use these innovations to shape the future for the better. In this keynote presentation, Jesse Stommel, author of An Urgency of Teachers, will challenge us to engage with AI from a place of curiosity and critical thinking, rather than suspicion of students. Most importantly, Stommel will explore how we can embrace this moment to make learning more engaging, relevant and human for all.
- Jesse Stommel, Author and Teaching Faculty, University of Denver
From Surviving to Thriving: Creating Communities of Care
Change is a constant and often difficult companion—exciting on the one hand, and potentially overwhelming on the other. The question is, how can we support students to push through the obstacles that change presents? For acclaimed educator and creativity consultant Katie Dawson, promoting resilience, understanding and an ethic of care is not simply a balm in uncertain times—it's the foundation for academic success. In this workshop, well investigate instructional techniques to empower students to not only adapt to change, but thrive in an evolving world. Come ready to engage, reflect and, yes, paint, as we immerse in the transformative power of care in our classrooms!
- Katie Dawson, Drama and Theater, University of Texas at Austin
What's New with Top Hat
Join us to explore how our latest features are improving the student experience and making it easier to incorporate evidence-based teaching practices in your courses. See how Top Hat is leveraging the power of AI to support student learning outside of class, while reducing the time and effort it takes you to develop assessments aligned to your course content. Plus, get a first-hand look at how we're closing the achievement gap in STEM with new solutions designed to improve Math readiness.
- Clare Castro, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Top Hat
- Sue-Mun Huang, Group Product Manager, Top Hat
Birds of a Feather Luncheon + Top Hat Product Demo Showcase
Get to know your peers and share your teaching journey with instructors in your discipline. Plus, spend time at the Demo Showcase and test drive the latest innovations from Top Hat.
Promoting Engagement & Community with Evidence-Based Teaching
When students need help with coursework, we imagine them turning to Google or ChatGPT. Yet research suggests most students still prefer to seek support from peers and instructors, underscoring the vital role community plays in academic success. What's more, students who say their instructors use evidence-based teaching practices report increased positive outcomes, including feelings of belonging and confidence in their ability to graduate. In this session, we'll explore how you can combine the power of Top Hat with proven teaching strategies that embrace shared experience, collaboration and interaction to motivate and engage students and cultivate community in your classroom.
- Dr. Bradley Cohen, Chief Academic Officer, Top Hat
- Dr. Demian Hommel, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
Maximizing Course Success by Teaching with Insight
It's not always easy to tell how well students are understanding your lessons. Midterms and finals can identify who's struggling, but they often come too late to get students back on track. The good news: Top Hat can help you establish feedback loops to better support students while enhancing course delivery—over time, and in the moment itself. In this session, you'll learn how to gain rich insights into student engagement and performance. We'll explore the use of knowledge gauges, auto-graded questions, open discussions and the Top Hat Gradebook to provide the feedback students crave while helping you pinpoint improvements in your course design and delivery.
- Andrea Hendricks, Mathematics, Georgia State University, Perimeter College
Using Content Authoring and Customization to Create Community
Efforts to improve textbook affordability are spreading across higher education. Yet there are opportunities we risk missing in the narrow focus on cost. As Dr. Nicole Fisk will share, this includes using content to create connections within her program and the broader university community itself. In this presentation, you'll learn how Dr. Fisk has embraced Top Hat's authoring tools to improve student retention by showcasing the work of students and faculty at her university. She'll also discuss how she uses customization to appeal to the interests of diverse audiences, keep content current (and yes, affordable) and strategies for getting students to engage authentically with course texts.
- Nicole Fisk, English Language and Literature, University of South Carolina
Transforming Student Learning in Chemistry
Research suggests that only 40 percent of students who intend to major in a STEM field end up completing a degree. For lecturer Kimberly Arnold, changing this equation begins by piquing curiosity, cultivating a growth mindset and helping students understand the larger value of what they will learn. But that's just the start. Join us for 'a day in the life' to see how Arnold uses Top Hat and Aktiv Chemistry to make learning active, promote collaboration and ensure every student receives the practice and feedback they need to realize their potential.
- Kimberly Arnold, Lecturer, Chemistry, Indiana University
A Difference Maker's Approach to Fostering Inclusive Excellence and Student Success
The failure to find a sense of belonging is a key reason many students never complete a college degree. This is especially true of first-generation and underrepresented minorities. In this session, Professor Smith explores the critical role structure plays in inclusive teaching and the importance of combining high expectations with compassionate support. You'll learn how she uses Top Hat to create an interactive syllabus that sets clear expectations and cultivates early engagement, as well as proven strategies for building student confidence. Professor Smith will also share a powerful, evidence-based practice designed to motivate students by helping them envision themselves as future professionals in their chosen field.
- Donna Smith, Professor, Mathematics, Sierra College
Where Learning Belongs Keynote and Workshop
While there is plenty to give us pause, these uncertain times also offer an invitation to reflect on the human experience. Learning, after all, has always been a social and deeply personal enterprise. The desire for belonging, significance and to understand our world, ourselves and each other is fundamental to a meaningful education. As we wrap up the day, we’ll explore why, in the face of change, the instructor’s role is arguably more important than ever. Then get ready to roll up your sleeves one last time as we share ideas and test drive strategies to foster a greater sense of connection, belonging, and wellbeing in our classrooms.
- Dr. Bradley Cohen, Chief Academic Officer, Top Hat
Closing Cocktail Reception
Join your peers and the Top Hat team as we enjoy time for refreshments, connecting and reflecting on the day.
University of Denver
Jesse Stommel, PhD, is an award-winning educator, filmmaker, and the co-founder of the Digital Pedagogy Lab. He has also authored and co-authored several acclaimed books, including An Urgency of Teachers, Disrupting the Digital Humanities, and Critical Digital Pedagogy. As a lifelong student of educational technology and innovative teaching practices, Stommel is an ardent champion for inclusive pedagogy and promoting accessibility, agency and alternative assessments to transform the learning experience for thousands of students. Stommel experiments relentlessly with learning interfaces, both digital and analog, and his research focuses on higher education pedagogy, critical digital pedagogy, and assessment. He is currently a faculty member in the Writing Program at the University of Denver.Attend Jesse Stommel's Keynote talk on Friday, March 1st 9:00-10:00AM
Drama and Theatre
University of Texas at Austin
Katie Dawson uses the arts to increase equity and access in educational contexts. She is an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin where she co-heads the M.F.A. in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities / UTeach Theatre program. Dawson received the Distinguished Book Award (for The Reflexive Teaching Artist: Collective Wisdom from the Drama/Theatre Field), the Creative Drama Award and the Winifred Ward Scholar Award from the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. Her second book Drama-Based Pedagogy: Activating Learning Across the Curriculum was published in 2018. Dawson is a Provost’s Teaching Fellow at UT where she received the 2015 College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2018 College of Fine Arts Distinguished Research Award and the 2013 Regents Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.Attend Katie Dawson's Keynote talk on Friday, March 1st 10:15-11:15AM
Chief Academic Officer
As Top Hat’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Bradley Cohen provides advocacy and guidance to support Top Hat’s product innovation, publishing, and institutional engagement strategy. Prior to Top Hat, Cohen served as the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Ohio University. Under his leadership, Ohio University made great strides to improve student learning outcomes, save students millions of dollars through textbook and course redesign initiatives, and successfully execute ambitious growth strategies in online and blended modalities. Before that, he advanced instructional innovation and technology for 15 years at the University of Minnesota as the head of the Center for Educational Innovation and Associate CIO for Academic Technology.Attend Bradley Cohen's Keynote talk on Friday, March 1st 3:15-4:00PM
Sr. Product Marketing Manager
With nearly two decades in higher education publishing and educational technology, Clare Castro has a wealth of experience bringing innovative educational solutions to market. As a Senior Product Marketing Manager, she works closely with Top Hat’s Product, Sales, and Customer Success teams on the launch of new features for students and educators. Prior to joining Top Hat, she held a variety of marketing, customer success, and market development roles with Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. Clare holds a B.S. in Marketing from St. John’s University in New York.Attend Clare Castro's Keynote talk on Friday, March 1st 11:15-11:45AM
Group Product Manager
With over a decade of experience in clinical healthcare, advertising technology, streaming media, and now educational technology, Sue-Mun Huang thrives at tackling tough, technical problems with straightforward solutions. As a Group Product Manager at Top Hat, she leads the Content Management, Data, and Platform teams, channeling her relentless curiosity for data to create impactful product solutions for educators and students. Sue-Mun holds a B.E. (Hons) in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Auckland and was a member of the Marsden award-winning heart mechanics research group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.Attend Sue-Mun Huang's Keynote talk on Friday, March 1st 11:15-11:45AM
Senior Instructor, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
Oregon State University
Demian Hommel teaches a range of introductory and upper-division human geography courses in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. He specializes in engaging and inclusive pedagogy and believes that learning about our planet, and the people who live on it, should generate curiosity, empathy, and awe. He is also a fellow for the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, working to push the mission of excellence in teaching and learning across his campus and beyond.Attend Demian Hommel's Breakout session on Friday, March 1st 1:15-2:00PM and 2:15-3:00PM
Associate Professor, Mathematics
Georgia State University Perimeter College
Andrea Hendricks is the Senior Director of Online Initiatives and an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Georgia State University, Perimeter College. She previously served as Associate Department Chair for the Online Mathematics/Computer Science Department for seven years. After receiving a Master’s of Science in Pure Mathematics from Florida State University, Hendricks has devoted her career to higher education, teaching and serving in various leadership roles for over 29 years. Her passion for teaching, love of technology, and willingness to mentor others were key factors in Hendricks being named a Cole Fellow, the highest teaching honor at Perimeter College. She has published four traditional developmental math textbooks and authored a fully online, interactive text, College Algebra with Support.Attend Andrea Hendricks's Breakout session on Friday, March 1st 1:15-2:00PM and 2:15-3:00PM
Sr. Instructor & Associate Director for the First-Year English Program
University of South Carolina
Nicole Plyler Fisk is a Senior Instructor of English at the University of South Carolina and Associate Director of the First-Year English Program. Fisk works both to establish a standard curriculum for English 101 and 102 and to manage a select number of themed sections created for various learning communities across campus. She has taught themed courses using pop culture texts like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series. She has also taught Fiction courses abroad, in both Ireland and Portugal. In 2023, Fisk won the College of Arts and Sciences Professional Faculty Teaching Award. She holds a PhD in English from the University of South Carolina.Attend Nicole Fisk's Breakout session on Friday, March 1st 1:15-2:00PM and 2:15-3:00PM
A dedicated educator with nearly 40 years of experience, Professor Donna M. Smith has excelled in teaching undergraduate math at Sierra College for the past 25 years. She also served as the Dean of Mathematics, Engineering, and Drafting at American River College. Awarded the 2022 Teaching Excellence Award by the California Mathematics Council of Community Colleges and the Top Hat Black Educator Grant, Smith is an ardent champion of innovative teaching methods. Passionate about technology, she integrates Top Hat into hybrid, in-person, and online courses in statistics, trigonometry, college algebra, calculus I and business calculus to foster student engagement and success.Attend Donna Smith's Breakout session on Friday, March 1st 1:15-2:00PM and 2:15-3:00PM
Kim Arnold has been teaching in the Chemistry Department at Indiana University as an adjunct instructor and lecturer for the past 16 years. She holds a Master of Arts in Chemistry Teaching degree which gives her a solid foundation in evidence-based pedagogical methods. Arnold teaches various large-enrollment introductory and general chemistry courses and has developed a highly successful Internship in Chemical Instruction program to train undergraduate students to serve as peer instructors in courses in the chemistry department. In addition, she serves as the liaison to high school teachers in the Advanced College Project. Outside of academics, Arnold loves exploring and hiking with her family and dogs, especially along the picturesque Lake Michigan lakeshore.Attend Kimberly Arnold's Breakout session on Friday, March 1st 1:15-2:00PM and 2:15-3:00PM