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New app allows students to answer questions without paying for clickers

A student uses Top Hat to study for a Political Science class. Top Hat is a new app OSU recently purchases for students to use. Photo Illustration by Eileen McClory / Lantern Reporter

A student uses Top Hat to study for a Political Science class. Top Hat is a new app OSU recently purchases for students to use. Photo Illustration by Eileen McClory / Lantern Reporter

Some professors have asked students to sign up for an online app, Top Hat, instead of buying a clicker to answer questions and polls in the classroom.

“We needed a simple and secure and affordable way for students to participate in live lectures,” said Travis Ritter, senior associate director of learning systems and infrastructure for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning.

Ritter said the previous system used for students to participate in lectures, a clicker system, forced students to buy a $40 clicker with limited functionality.

The license means the app is free for all Ohio State students.

However, Ritter said some students had gotten a pop-up asking them to pay additional money to use the service. Ritter said students should not pay for those services.

“College affordability is something we’re concerned about,” Dave Hooker, a learning technology innovation leader for the Office of the Chief Information Officer, said.

Without OSU’s partnership with the app, Hooker said the app could cost $20 for a student to purchase a semester pass to use Top Hat and about $40 for a five-year pass.

About 249 professors have used Top Hat at OSU so far, Ritter said in an email. He added that he anticipated a continued increase during the year.

Mary McGrath, a first-year in biology, said she liked using Top Hat for her biology class, though she had only used the app once.

“I thought it was good we could use different devices,” she said.

McGrath added she liked that she could see how her peers reply to questions in the course forums.

Samantha Weisal, a third-year in French, said she hadn’t used the app for her classes, but remembered using clickers during a first-year biology course.

“Those clickers are really expensive,” she said. “I use everything on my phone.”

Lisa Cravens-Brown, a senior lecturer of psychology, is teaching three courses this semester and is using Top Hat in all of her classes.

“I really like the idea that I can use a classroom response system for all my students,” she said.

Cravens-Brown said she intended to use the app for classroom polls and will have her students earn participation points through the system. However, she said she kept her gradebook in Carmen because she preferred that system.

While it was too early to tell how her students like the app so far, Cravens-Brown said they liked not having to use clickers or pay for the app.

“About mid-semester, we’ll talk more about keeping (Top Hat),” she said.

 

One comment

  1. If the president and BoT want to address affordability they need to focus on expensive expenses. Yahoo, they found a way to save students in 300 out of 10,000+ classes $38. How about finding a way to provide health insurance that does cost 4x as much per semester as one year of Obamacare? How about slowing down the revolving door of textbook revisions, which inflates the price. Few undergrad classes can’t be taught with books published 10-40 years ago, even in STEM class.

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