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Top Hat? What’s That?

 Written by    January 22, 2019

Though each class at Ohio State grades based on its own special criteria, pretty much all of them ask that you attend every lecture / recitation session to receive participation points towards your final grade. At first, this may seem like an infeasible requirement; after all, some class sessions (especially the lectures) will have up to several dozen students at a time. How on earth can they possibly expect to record attendance accurately? The main system of taking attendance at Ohio State is through the use of an app called Top Hat.

The Top Hat app can be found on both Apple and Android devices.

Photo Credit: Tophat.com

Since you’ll likely be using this app on a frequent basis throughout your stay at Ohio State, you should know a few things about how it works:

  1. The app will ask you to have access to your location information. Your professors expect you to say “Yes.” Though it may seem a little intrusive, it is necessary for Top Hat to know your location for attendance purposes. Having access to your location will allow the app to record your attendance in a secure fashion, and again, your professors will expect you to do so in order to confirm that you were, in fact, physically present. You can always toggle off that permission in your device’s Settings after class lets out.
  2. Turning off location won’t be enough to slip past attendance. Even if you decide not to give the app that information, you will still need to be present in class for your participation to be recorded. Most of the classes I’ve been to where attendance was required involved Top Hat in one way or another. There was no clipboard or attendance sheet in the professor’s hand; they simply had the class open their Top Hat apps and posted a four-digit attendance code on the board so the class could type it into their apps and be marked as present. After a while, the code is removed so the professor can get on with the class. Basically, you must be physically in class in order to put in the attendance code and thus guarantee that you will receive credit for being in attendance.
  3. The time of attendance-taking can vary from class to class. Most professors will take attendance at the beginning of each class, but some of them wait until the last few minutes of the class to do so. I found this out the hard way when I got an unexcused absence from a lecture session I was in attendance for, all because I assumed the attendance code on the board was for the next class coming in. Learn from my mistake and pay attention for the first couple of classes, if only to learn what’s what with regards to the timing of attendance.
  4. Top Hat is occasionally used for other purposes. Though its primary function is to take attendance, Top Hat can also be used for classroom questions in general. The professor will pose a question to the entire class through the app, and the app records the students’ responses. This is a minor piece of advice, but it’s also a good reason to make sure that you always have a device on you with Top Hat installed whenever you go to class. You never know when you might need it. Don’t have a device with access to an app store? Top Hat also has a fully functional website.

I get that an entire post on a single app seems a bit much, but it bears repeating that Top Hat is used frequently by the teachers and students at Ohio State. In many instances, it is the only way to securely and accurately record your attendance, which again is considered part of your grade. By using Top Hat, you’ll be able to get participation credit (that would otherwise have been needlessly lost) towards your final grade.

Academics, Advice, Author, Classes, Student Life


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