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Using Top Hat for Polling Students in Zoom

Facilitating the polling of students within a Zoom synchronous session

Instructional Challenge

During instruction, finding ways of soliciting feedback and measuring students' understanding of content is crucial. Polling is a good way of both measuring understanding and engaging students in the process of learning. This document walks instructors through setting up and using Top Hat to poll students while in a Zoom session.

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Setting Up Instructor's Top Hat Account

Top Hat is a Student Response System (SRS) that allows you to ask questions, take polls, give quizzes, and receive feedback from your students during class. Top Hat is a bring-your-own-device solution, meaning students can use any web-enabled device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) to participate. It also allows text messaging to submit answers so students can use older or flip cell phones. UW-Madison now has an enterprise license for Top Hat — allowing all UW-Madison instructors and students to use the tool without paying for a subscription. Follow the links below to set up your Top Hat account and connect your courses to the Top Hat system.

  1. Top Hat - Account Setup (Instructors) [UW-Madison]
  2. Top Hat - Syncing Grades and Rosters with Canvas (LTI 1.3) [UW-Madison]

Creating a Top Hat Question

  1. In your Canvas course, select Top Hat from the navigation bar. You will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  2. Select the Create button to create a new question. The following are the available question types (for a full description, visit the Top Hat Support Site): multiple-choice, word answers, numeric answers, fill-in-the-blank, matching, click-on-target, sorting, or long answer.
    1. Select Question and select the appropriate question type from the Top Hat Questions section.
    2. Fill in the question details. Go to the Top Hat Support Site for directions on the specific question type.
    3. Select Save.

Setting Up Students in Top Hat

UW-Madison has procured an enterprise license for Top Hat. The new license allows all UW-Madison instructors and students to use the tool without paying for a subscription. Students should use their UW-Madison credentials to log on to Top Hat. Before students use Top Hat, they should ensure their account is set up correctly. Send students to the following site for directions on setting up their accounts:

Starting the Polling Session

  1. Before the session starts in Zoom, go to your Canvas course and select Top Hat from the navigation bar. You will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  2. Once you are in Zoom and ready to poll students, direct students to your Canvas course and have them select Top Hat. They will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  3. In Top Hat, select the discussion question(s) you want to present by choosing the square to the left of the questions.
  4. When ready to display the question to students, select the arrow icon to the right of the Present button at the top right corner of the screen. Make sure Enable full screen presenting is not enabled.
  5. Select Start Presentation to release question(s) to students.
  6. The question will appear on the screen. Students will see the question listed under Questions and Attendance
  7. To share your screen in Zoom, select Share Content from the Collaborate Panel. Select Share Application/Screen and select the window of your Top Hat screen. Note: Browsers differ in the way this feature works.
  8. As students answer the question, you can show the live responses by selecting the Responses button.
  9. Select Close to end the answer submission process.
  10. Select Correct to show the correct answer (if one has been identified).
  11. To end the presentation, use the ESC key on your laptop.


Keywordspolling, synchronous, zoomDoc ID104077
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-16 14:00:59Updated2023-12-21 10:25:03
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring, Learn@UW-Madison
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