Top Hat Provides First-Ever Free Platform to Access Textbooks for Higher Education

Top Hat’s digital, interactive, fully customizable textbooks revolutionize the way educators teach and students learn

The cost of textbooks has increased 1,041% since 1977, far outpacing the rise of inflation and contributing to a staggering $1.49 trillion in student debt in the United States

Top Hat Textbook is part of a full, end-to-end teaching solution to improve student engagement in class, securely administer tests and assign customized homework

More than 2.8 million students at North American colleges and universities have used Top Hat, including California State University, Indiana University, and Ohio University

TORONTO--()--Top Hat, provider of the leading cloud-based teaching platform for higher education, today announced completely free access to the textbooks and other open educational resources on the Top Hat Marketplace to better serve the needs of educators and students. Through Top Hat’s platform, they can now access free, high-quality and customizable textbooks and course materials online without paying a subscription or platform fee.

One of the biggest challenges in higher education is the rising cost of textbooks and course materials. According to the United States Department of Labor, the cost of textbooks has increased by 1,041 per cent since 19771. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a study that found 65 per cent of students decided against buying a textbook because it was expensive2. And as of December, 2017, the total amount of student loan debt across the country was $1.49 trillion USD3.

“Historically, students have been forced to weigh the pros and cons of emptying their wallets and draining their financial aid to buy educational materials,” said Mike Silagadze, co-founder and CEO, Top Hat. “Educators have been placed in a position where they have to find the balance between assigning course materials that are affordable versus those that are high-quality and relevant in the classroom. Today, educators can have the best of both worlds. At Top Hat, we’re making education more accessible, inclusive, and effective, by improving affordability for students and the quality and flexibility of content for professors.”

“The ecosystem of high-quality educational content is enriched by Top Hat’s mission to make education more affordable and effective, and by its commitment to the new CARE framework for responsible OER stewardship,” said David Harris, editor in chief, “OpenStax is dedicated to improving student access to quality learning materials, and I am pleased that OpenStax adopters will have access to Top Hat’s innovative platform.”

“I firmly believe that access to high-quality educational content results in opportunity,” said Joel Stake, lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, Louisiana Tech University. “Top Hat is enabling access on a large scale so that educators no longer have to worry about how they’re going to assign high-quality and relevant content that is also affordable. My own students use OpenStax textbooks on Top Hat’s platform, and now have the opportunity and resources to be successful in their coursework.”

The Top Hat platform includes Top Hat Textbook, Top Hat Assignment, Top Hat Classroom, and Top Hat Test. Top Hat Textbook helps professors improve learning outcomes with customizable, interactive, and affordable educational content. They can choose from more than 20,000 course materials created with Top Hat Textbook in the Top Hat Marketplace, where 90 per cent of content is free and openly licensed, and the average cost of premium textbooks is $53 USD. Top Hat Assignment is also available for free to supplement Top Hat Textbook or on its own. It enables educators to create, customize, assign, and track homework for students.

“We’re going beyond just offering traditional content - the static PDFs offered by traditional publishers,” said Silagadze. “A static piece of digital content is no better than the textbooks that take years to publish and are outdated as soon as they hit the shelf. With Top Hat, professors can author new or customize existing content, collaborate with other educators, and rest assured their students are engaging with up-to-date, high-quality interactive material.”

Educators can leverage the rest of the Top Hat platform to further improve the learning experience. For instance, Top Hat Classroom leverages students’ existing mobile devices to increase in-class engagement and delivers real-time feedback to educators. With Top Hat Test, professors can securely administer exams and quizzes delivered directly to students’ devices. When the entire platform is used together, professors are able to fully encourage and support student success by improving in-class engagement; provide affordable, up-to-date, and customizable content; and easily assess, grade, and analyze data about individual student performance.

Top Hat has been used by more than 2.8 million students at colleges and universities across North America. By providing free access to course material, Top Hat aims to break down the price barrier to a quality education by making widely available the next generation of textbooks that are affordable, high-quality, interactive, and customizable.

For more information or to schedule a demo with Top Hat, please visit

About Top Hat
Top Hat’s interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables professors to engage students inside and outside the classroom with compelling content, tools and activities. Millions of students at 750 leading North American colleges and universities use the Top Hat teaching platform. To learn more, visit

1 U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from (August 2015). Retrieved February 12, 2018.
2 U.S. Pirg Education Fund and The Student Pirgs, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market,” (January 2014). Retrieved February 12, 2018.
3 U.S. Federal Reserve System, “Consumer Credit - G.19,” (February 2018). Retrieved February 12, 2018.


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