Active Learning Platform - Using Top Hat (for Instructors)


Top Hat is one of two real-time student response systems at Virginia Tech. The other is iClicker. For student instructions, see: Using Top Hat (for Students).



Comparison of Student Response System (iClicker) / Active Learning Platform (Top Hat)

Feature iClicker Cloud Top Hat
Instructors present slides in the app
Instructors can quiz students
Students must purchase remotes optional  
Students can use mobile devices
Data stored in the cloud
Roster auto-syncs with Canvas
Instructors can take attendance based on student device location/GPS

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Setting up Top Hat

For detailed instructions see Top Hat's Educator: Quick Start guide.

Create Account

  1. Go to Top Hat's website.
  2. Click Create Your Account.
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  3. Click on Educator.
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  4. Type in your Virginia Tech email address and click Next Step.
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  5. In the School field, type in Virginia Tech and choose it from the drop down list.
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  6. Click the checkbox to agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Then click Log in with school account to sign in with single sign-on (SSO) and follow the normal log in and 2-factor authentication process.
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  7. Click Accept to consent to information release.
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  8. You're signed into Top Hat and can begin creating courses.

Create Your First Course

  1. You will be directed to your course lobby after creating your TopHat account. Click Create Course.
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  2. Fill out the course information EXACTLY as it appears in Canvas and click Create. Top Hat will go to the new course's page.
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Create Additional Courses

  1. Click Courses in the top left of the screen and then Create Course.
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  2. Fill out the course information EXACTLY as it appears in Canvas.  
  3. Click Create.

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Integrating Top Hat and Canvas

For detailed instructions, see LTI 1.3 (Canvas): Connect a Canvas Course to Top Hat.

  1. In Canvas, navigate to Courses and click on your course. Make sure you have published your course.
  2. Click on the Top Hat link in the course navigation menu.
  3. If pop-ups are not blocked, Top Hat will open in a new tab automatically. Otherwise, click Open in a new window.
  4. From the drop-down, click on the Top Hat course. Click Continue.
  5. When prompted, authorize Top Hat to access Canvas. You should see a success message in Top Hat.

Sync Student Rosters

After you integrate Top Hat with Canvas, your course roster will sync with Top Hat. The initial sync will occur that night at 1:00 AM.

Within that initial first sync, in order for students from Canvas to port to the Top Hat course roster, they:

Students should not enroll manually to the course (via the Join Code or direct URL), otherwise risk being removed from the Top Hat course.

Creating Top Hat Deep Links in Canvas Assignments
  1. Go to Top Hat's website and log in.
  2. Click on your course.
  3. Click Create to add folders/content. See the Educator: Getting Started with Top Hat guide.
  4. Go to the course on Canvas.
  5. Create an assignment with Submission Type External Tool.
    1. Click Find to open a list of available tools.
    2. Click on Top Hat and click Open in a new window.
    3. Top Hat will open. Click on the folder or content that you've created in Top Hat that you want to link and click Continue.
    4. Click Confirm. If you have trouble confirming, you may need to go back to your content and ensure that they have a due date.
  6. You will be redirected back to Canvas. Click Select to close out of the Configure External Tool window.
  7. Fill in the rest of the assignment details and click Save and/or Save/Publish
  8. When students access the Canvas assignment, they can open the deep link by clicking Load in a new window to launch the assignment.
Manage Students
  1. Navigate to your course Student Manager by clicking the Students tab in your course header. 
  2. On the Course Access column you will be able to manage your students on Top Hat and understand whether or not they have successfully been synched from your LMS.
    1. When a student clicks any LTI link (Top Hat tool link or deep link), only that student is added to the Top Hat roster.
    2. Other students, will be added to the Top Hat roster upon the next nightly roster sync and will be displayed as follows:
      • Students with no Top Hat account will listed as Pending.
      • Students with a Top Hat account will be marked as No Access.
    3. Your students can receive the following email if you send an enrollment reminder via the Student tab in your Top Hat course.
      • Once they click the link and follow instructions, their Top Hat Course Access status will change to Full Access.

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Managing Top Hat Courses

Edit Course Settings

For detailed instructions, see Educator: Course Settings.

  1. In the Top Hat website, click on your course.
  2. Click on your name in the top right then click on the Course Settings icon to the right of the Join code.
  3. In the navigation under your course name, you can access General Settings, People & Roles, Grading, Timers, Attendance, LTI 1.3 LMS Sync, and Advanced.
    • General Settings: Rename your course and give a description. Add a password, change course availability, or delete the course.
    • People & Roles: Add other instructors and designers. Not for adding students. 
    • Grading: Manage which grades your students see. Enable and disable the gradebook. Hide questions and answers. Change grade display. 
    • Timers: Add a timer to questions. 
    • Attendance: Enable Secure Attendance to only allow students in the classroom to mark themselves as present. It detects how close the student device is to your device. 
    • LTI 1.3 LMS Sync. Check the Canvas course synced to your Top Hat course to sync grades and update any roster changes. Disconnect the course if the incorrect Canvas course is synced. See Integrate with Canvas for instructions.
    • Advanced: Manage how students interact with the content in your course.
  4. Click Save Changes after any edits.

Create Course Content

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Getting Help

Contact Technical Support

Both Top Hat and Canvas support Top Hat.

Request Demonstration

To schedule a personalized demonstration or learn more about implementing Top Hat in your course, please contact Top Hat directly. Top Hat’s dedicated Education Technology Specialist, Kevin, will get in touch with you.

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