Amid the unprecedented, coronavirus-driven transition to online learning, Top Hat, a leading active learning platform for higher education has raised $55 million in funding. Top Hat aims to provide innovative and valuable online learning capabilities so that students feel more engaged, supported and motivated in their new remote setting, including a new virtual classroom setting.
The higher ed platform boasts nearly 2.7 million students enrolled in courses and that 750 of the 1,000 top-ranking schools in North America also utilize its services. This week, it announced that it will be launching a free version of its platform with new virtual classroom streamlining. A group of professors will be able to test the free platform in beta for the summer, according to the Associated Press. The platform will become publicly available once the fall semester begins.
The new virtual classroom feature will enable professors to stream their lectures live, present and edit slides, host live chats, conduct polls, and quizzes, take attendance, and record lectures to ensure students have access to the learning material. All of these new remote learning capabilities were created to address students' and educators' dissatisfaction with current online learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey shows that 68 percent of college students feel that the current online instruction they're receiving is inferior to the in-person they had at school. Meanwhile, college and university administrators are most concerned about the mental health of their students and employees, followed by the shorter-term unbudgeted financial costs and accelerated rates of student attrition.
Top Hat has now raised almost $105 million with the help of investors and intends to use the funds to "expand its efforts around digital textbooks and course materials." Once only offering a quiz and feedback system for in-class use, Top Hat is now rolling out a new "comprehensive set of tools" for its educators and students, which “couldn’t have come at a better time as educators are trying to leverage technology to continue to offer their best possible courses under challenging circumstances." As a current high school or college student (or parent of one), what is the current online learning platform you are using, and how is it working out for you? Share your thoughts with us, below.