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Student Response

U Edinburgh Adopts New App for In-Class Voting

A university in Scotland has licensed new technology to support in-class voting. This summer the University of Edinburgh began using Top Hat from a Canadian company of the same name to replace a legacy clicker service adopted in 2008 and no longer supported.

A major advantage of the new software, according to the institution, is that questions posed by lecturers to students no longer have to be limited to multiple choice; the new program allows the faculty member to ask open questions as well.

Also, students and faculty can use the new application from any Internet-enabled device or SMS, and participants in different locations can post questions or vote. (A survey found that 100 percent of students own a "suitable" device for using the software.) A discussion feature allows students to submit questions during the lecture and "vote up" popular ones. Questions can be set for homework. And responses can be tracked and analyzed after class.

Top Hat isn't the only voting option provided to faculty at the university. Instructors also have access to Mentimeter, Socrative and Poll Everywhere.

"The [university] is continually exploring options on how to better engage our students and support feedback opportunities," said Mark Wetton, head of Educational Design and Engagement. "By using Top Hat's technology, we are encouraging active learning and advanced teaching methods."

Under the terms of the agreement, the school will provide its faculty and students access to the software free of charge as the use of Top Hat promotes the replacement of clickers. Professors interested in using the platform will be trained primarily on site; they'll also be able to attend online training sessions and tailored tutorials and will have access to the company's tech support.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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