How Top Hat Helped Promote Student Discussion and Debate in a Large Class
Today, Top Hat–related activities in the classroom count for 10 percent of his students’ final grades in all his courses, and it’s all linked to participation. “Listen, I understand why a lot of professors are resistant to bringing technology into the classroom, or are even intimidated by it,” says Dutil. “There’s nothing worse than fumbling in front of a class. The seconds feel like hours.” Dutil readily admits that he’s no digital native (he bought his first personal smartphone in 2016), but he’s found Top Hat’s classroom engagement app easy to use. And more importantly he knows his students are always on their phones, and he needs to meet them there.
“I may be older, but I’m not naïve. No matter what I did, there was always at least one-quarter of students not paying any attention to what I was saying, and focused on their phones. We’re dealing with students who have incredibly short attention spans. Add to that, usually a quarter of the class doesn’t even bother to show up.” Attendance can’t be factored into the students’ final grade, according to department policy, but participation is, and Top Hat allows Dutil to see exactly who is participating in class.
“Top Hat makes my lectures more provocative, more dynamic and more effective, and that’s why I use it.“—PATRICE DUTIL Professor, Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University
“The students who perform best always tell me this: the key to success is attending all the lectures and all the tutorials,” says Dutil. “I’m here to educate students, not to entertain them. But Top Hat makes my lectures more provocative, more dynamic and more effective, and that’s why I use it. If engaging lectures can get students to class more often, I’m setting them on the path to good outcomes.”
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