Top Hat

The university has procured an enterprise license for Top Hat that will go into effect for the fall 2022 semester. The new license will allow all UW-Madison instructors and students to use the tool without paying for subscriptions.

Top Hat is a cloud-based 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, which means that students can use any web-enabled device (laptop, tablets, smartphones) to participate. Top Hat also allows for text messaging to submit answers, so students can use older cell phones as well.

Top Hat (Pro) is available at reduced pricing for students via UW-Madison’s membership in the Unizin consortium. Alongside the paid version of Top Hat (Pro), a free version called Top Hat (Basic) is available. In this free version, some features will not be available to users that will be available for paid versions. Be aware that Top Hat (Basic) does not extend or include the integration of results into the Canvas grade book, and therefore, results of the Top Hat discussions or polling are not for formal assessment or allocation of participation points.

Key Features (Basic)

  • Uses any web-enabled device (laptop, tablet, smartphone)
  • Offers synchronous presentation that allows students to follow content as it is presented in class
  • Supports multiple question types
  • Offers SMS and offline mode capability
  • Supports file hosting and upload capability for PowerPoint and other file types
  • Offers real-time analytics

Key Features (Pro)

  • All features of Top Hat (Basic)
  • Live assessments and auto-graded quizzes that sync with the Canvas Gradebook
  • Full Top Hat gradebook
  • Automatic attendance
  • Detailed student performance reports


Top Hat (Pro) is integrated with the Canvas learning management system (LMS) so that class rosters and grades can be easily synced between the two. Top Hat (Basic) is not integrated with Canvas.

Instructional Uses

There are many ways to utilize Top Hat to enhance your instruction. Examples include:

  • In-class quizzing (Top Hat (Pro) Only)
  • Formative assessment
  • Assessing attitudes, biases and misconceptions
  • Assessing prior knowledge
  • Taking attendance (Due to students needing to pay for a license, this should not be the primary use of the tool) (Top Hat (Pro) Only)

For more information about how to use Top Hat for instruction, read our “What are the pedagogical uses of a student response system” guide.

Getting Started

To get started using Top Hat, sign up and create an account at You can log in using your UW-Madison NetID. For instructions, please see the Learn@UW-Madison Top Hat “Getting Started” guide.

Top Hat (Basic) is available free of charge to instructors and students.

Although Top Hat (Pro) is free to instructors, students are required to purchase a subscription in order to use the product. Purchasing a subscription enables a student to use Top Hat (Pro) with an unlimited number of active courses that occur during the subscription period.

UW-Madison students are eligible for the following reduced Top Hat (Pro) subscription prices:

  • One semester (4 months) – $16 (This option cannot be upgraded to a year.)
  • One year (12 months) – $20
  • Lifetime (5 years) – $54

When purchasing a subscription, students will have the opportunity to select the duration. UW-Madison reduced pricing will be shown during the purchase process.

Helpful Resources


Top Hat support is provided by the vendor. For direct support, please call (888) 663-5491 or email

The Learn@UW-Madison team is also available to consult with instructors and instructional staff on selecting and using the right learning technology to improve student success. Instructors and instructional staff can request a consultation through the DoIT Help Desk. In addition, the Learn@UW KnowledgeBase offers helpful documents for instructors, course owners and students.