Top Hat

Top Hat is a software-based student response system that lets instructors ask questions during class, and can track the responses of students who participate. Top Hat allows students to connect using their own laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Types of uses

  • Ask questions or run quizzes in an in-person and remote class
  • Take attendance
  • Livestream your lecture, record it and embed in an assignment
  • Create a post-lecture assignment
  • Open a discussion thread to capture students’ questions
  • Share files with your students

What it looks like

Considerations before using this tool


How will you respond if a student, faculty or staff member has a negative experience on this platform? How will you be able to identify if someone is being targeted? How can you mitigate any online harassment that might take place?

Comfort and Ease of Use

What do you want students, faculty or staff to do if they feel uncomfortable in this online space? How will you organize information on your course site so that it is easy for students to navigate?


How will you comply with copyright rules? How will you comply with relevant data retention rules?


How can Top Hat enrich your teaching? How will you integrate the various aspects of your course in Top Hat? How will ensure academic integrity?

Support available

Useful information and tips

About this tool

Name: Top Hat
Vendor: Top Hat
Cost: Free (campus license provided)
Status: core platform.

Approved for:

Level 1 Data: Public

Public is defined as:

  • Information deemed to be public by legislation and/or under University policy
  • Information in the public domain

Examples include:

  • names of employees and
    • business contact information
    • job profile
    • salary range
    • discretional benefits
    • relevant education
  • names of registered students and
    • dates of registration
    • program of registration
    • degree awarded
    • convocation date
  • annual reports
  • public announcements
  • telephone directory
  • published research data
Level 2 Data: Internal Use

Internal Use is defined as:

  • Information not approved for general circulation outside the University
  • Information the disclosure or loss of which would inconvenience the University although it would unlikely result in financial loss or reputational damage

Examples of this include:

  • internal memos sent to all members of a department
  • minutes of department meetings that are circulated to all members of a department
  • unpublished research data
  • anonymized or de-identified human subject data
  • library transactions and journals
Level 3 Data: Confidential

Confidential is defined as:

  • Information that is available only to authorized persons
  • Information the disclosure or loss of which could seriously impede the University’s operations
  • Information the disclosure or loss of which may:
    • adversely affect the University’s operation; or
    • cause reputational damage; and
    • obligate the University to report to the government or other regulating body and/or provide notice to affected individuals.

Examples include:

  • faculty/staff employment applications, personnel files, date of birth, health information and personal contact information
  • admission applications
  • student enrollment status
  • donor or prospective donor name and contact information
  • information commonly used to establish identity such as a driver’s license or passport
  • contracts
  • intellectual property
  • authentication verifiers including:
    • passwords
    • shared secrets
    • cryptographic private keys

Software license: Commercial, proprietary
Hosting: Servers hosted by vendor