Top Hat Overview


  • Top Hat is one of the main audience response systems in use on campus. This software allows faculty and staff members to facilitate live and asynchronous interactions with students through features like polling, discussion prompts, quiz questions and more. Students can participate live by responding via the Top Hat app on their phone/tablets or via a browser from their computer.


There are two types of Top Hat access at our institution- Pro and Basic. Associated licensing costs are paid per student and participating student cohorts are established by each college prior to the start of each academic year. The differences between the two levels are outlined below.

Top Hat Pro (Paid Access)

  • Requires WesternU login credentials for access
  • Free for WesternU staff and faculty to establish a "Professor" account to start creating content to deploy to students, however...
  • Students only have access to full participation functionality if their college indicated that their cohort requires this paid license prior to the start of the academic year. A list of participating cohorts can be viewed here.
  • Full paid area with access to all that Top Hat has to offer. Student video exam monitoring is an add-on Top Hat service that the university is not currently utilizing.

Top Hat Basic (Free Access)

  • Does not require WesternU login credentials for access
  • Free for WesternU staff, faculty and students to establish an account to start using the service
  • Basic access provides all of the same functionality as Pro access except for the following:
    • Ability to keep attendance data after live sessions have concluded
    • Access to a gradebook on either professor or student side
    • Ability for students to reference materials after live sessions have concluded
    • Ability for professor to deploy asynchronous assignments


  • What if I would like to make a single presentation to a group of non-WesernU participants or I present sparsely to a group that I would not like to make register for access?

    • Top Hat accommodates one-off requests if you would not like to make it mandatory for participants to register to participate in your presentation. This access can be accomplished per presentation by contacting Top Hat support and letting them know you are presenting to a guest audience.

  • Can I use the same email address for different access areas?

    • No, an email address can only be used in one Top Hat area

  • How do I start using Top Hat for the first time?

  • I am having technical or account-related issues with Top Hat- where do I contact for help?

    • Because WesternU does not have administrative access to account information, please contact Top Hat support for issues. If further escalation is needed, WesternU staff can facilitate that process if a report is submitted here.

  • If I am a faculty or staff member presenting to a mix of Pro-licensed and Basic access students, what account should I present my material from?

    • It is advised that you create material and present from a Basic Professor account. Because Top Hat can only accommodate a single email being used in one area (Pro vs Basic), this may necessitate using an alternate non-WesternU email for Basic Professor account registration. Access for students with Pro licenses are not effected by presenting from a Basic Professor account. Presenters can simultaneously have one Pro account and one Basic account.

  • I am a faculty member teaching a course to a cohort of Pro-licensed students outside of my primary college (and my primary college does not have licenses for Top Hat Pro), how should I register for the service?

    • Because Professor account creation is free (both Pro and Basic), always create your account according to the students you are presenting to. If the cohort has Pro licenses, register and create content in the Pro areaif the cohort you're presenting to does not have Pro licenses, register and create content in the Basic area.

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Article ID: 131905
Mon 4/26/21 4:56 PM
Wed 11/1/23 3:18 PM

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