Tutor Whiteboard 2.0

Tutor Whiteboard 2.0 has been released!

Try it out at www.yup.com/whiteboard!

This post describes its new features and known issues. 

Text Editing

To use the new text tool:

  1. Click on the “Aa” button
  2. On the whiteboard, drag your mouse down and to the right
    • Known issue: As you’re dragging out the space for the text, you will not see the box growing. It only appears once you release the mouse.
  3. Release the mouse
  4. Click inside the text box to start writing
  5. Press “Enter” or “Return” on your keyboard to finish writing

Here’s where it gets interesting! Click on the mouse cursor button in the top left corner, which lets you select and manipulate any object on your whiteboard except for freehand sketches. With the cursor button selected (not the “Aa” button) you can:

  • Hover over text boxes to see their boundaries
  • Edit the text in the box by double-clicking
    • Remember to press “Enter” or “Return” when finished
  • Drag text boxes around the whiteboard
  • Delete them using the “Delete” or “Backspace” key
  • Resize them using the blue squares on the edges


You can now create three new types of shapes: ellipses (using the circle button), triangles (equilateral and isosceles), and straight lines.

Open the menu by clicking on the shapes button, choose a shape, and then close the menu by clicking the shapes button again.

As with the text boxes, you can click on the cursor button and then select, move, resize, and delete the shapes.

Five More New Features

  • Manipulate outside images: You can still drag images from your computer and from many websites (like yupimages.imgur.com) straight onto your whiteboard, drag out the area where you want them to appear, and click on the image icon that appears. Then, you can use the mouse cursor button in the upper left corner to select, move, resize, or delete these too!
  • Eraser: You’ll notice an eraser button, which lets you erase freehand drawings you’ve made with the pencil tool. It cannot erase shapes and text; you’ll need to use the cursor tool and your delete key for those.
  • Redo: Along with the undo button, there is also a Redo button. This feature’s ability to track whiteboard actions hasn’t been perfected, so some actions may be “batched” together.
  • New ‘Clear’ Icon: The new “Clear whiteboard” button is on the bottom-right corner of the whiteboard’s button menu. Look for an icon with an eraser and a rectangle.
  • Always open: During your sessions, the whiteboard is now permanently open for business!

Important: Known Issues

  1. PLEASE DO NOT use the rotate feature until further notice. There are two known issues that should be fixed within the next day or two:
    • Drawing on a rotated board does not work properly.
    • Trying to load an image from the Tutor Chat that has a different orientation than your current board causes the board to go blank. If this happens, just keep rotating the board until the orientations match up. This will let you see and draw on the image.
  2. For technical reasons, the math typing feature has been temporarily disabled. It will return in the next round of improvements.
  3. DO NOT resize text boxes to be smaller than the original text you wrote, as this can cause the resize feature to behave erratically. If this does happen, you may need to refresh your window to clear the whiteboard.

Best of luck using your new whiteboards, and thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work on these issues! Please take the 2-question quiz below to show us that you’ve read and understood this post.

–Team Yup

NEW FEATURE: Student’s Chat With Yup Bot Shown in Review State

UPDATE (9/19): This feature is scheduled to be released sometime on Monday, September 25th.

What Will Change?

Currently, students using our iOS app can chat with our Yup Bot while waiting for a request to be claimed and reviewed.

Students interact with the bot by tapping orange buttons like the two shown above.

Our engineers have finished building a feature that lets you see the responses that students tap. It should be released sometime this coming Wednesday, September 20th, although this date may be pushed back by a day or two Monday, September 25th.

The New Bot Questions

When the feature goes live, there will be a series of five questions that the student can answer. (NOTE: If the student does not have the latest version of the iOS app, then you will see their responses, but not the bot’s questions.)

Here are the questions and the kinds of responses that they can have:

  1. How well do you want to understand this material?
    • Enough to solve this problem
    • Enough to solve similar problems
  2. How do you feel about this material?
    • Comfortable
    • Not comfortable
  3. Have you tried anything or gotten started?
    • Yes
    • No
  4. Want to snap a photo of work you’ve done on this material?
    • Yes [student sends image]
    • No
  5. How many problems do you want to work on?
    • One
    • More than one

Many students won’t get through all of these questions. The goal is simply to help you adapt your instruction from the very start.

For example, the first question shows the student’s intentions in using the app. If the “Only enough to solve this one” option is chosen, then you should make your explanations even more targeted and relevant to the problem.

What’s Next?

The results from our Review State tests did not show clear advantages in having a 60 second Review State, but this was when no additional facts about the student were provided.

We think the Review State can be made much more effective with the right information. If this turns out to be the case, then a longer Review State may still be a possibility.

Stay tuned for more new features!

–Team Yup


The Art of Pushing Information, Part 1

Let’s say you’re in a session with a student who’s visibly stuck and frustrated by a lack of progress. You’ve just asked some guiding questions, but with no success.

What’s a tutor to do now??

We know how tricky this scenario can be, given our dedication to student involvement.

While it’s definitely bad for a student to get so much help that they fail to learn, it’s just as bad and often worse for the learning process when they get so little help that they give up completely.

Instead of asking more guiding questions that the student may just guess on or not answer, here’s an initial list of tips for inspiration. Future posts in this series will expand on tactics like these.

  1. Walk the student through increasingly simple, targeted examples.
  2. Provide encouraging, motivating, and supportive language.
  3. Give increasingly specific hints about what the next step requires the student to use, find, or do.
  4. Assure the student that they’ll get to the answer AND feel comfortable with this material in the future if they bear with you for a while longer.
  5. Further break down explanations you’ve given earlier in the session, focusing on what the student is having the most trouble with.
  6. Do a small part of the work for the student, then have the student take over.
  7. Discover more of what the student DOES understand and build on top of it.

What other tactics have helped you in these situations? Please discuss and tell us what you think in the comments section below!

-Team Yup


NEW Tutor Rubric, Quality Assurance System, and Session Tags!

Good evening tutors,

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Tutor Rubric 3.0! 

Sessions will be graded according to Rubric 3.0 starting this coming Monday, August 7th. 

The new rubric shares many features with the last version, but includes new emphasis on instruction pace, responsiveness, teaching tools, and fostering a growth mindset in students.

Along with the new rubric, we are releasing Quality Assurance System 2.0. The redesigned system provides you with individual workbooks that let you see your performance, scheduling, and payment information all in one place. Each of you will be emailed a link to your individual QA 2.0 Workbook later this evening.

Finally, we’ve updated the Session Tags that tutors and TQMs apply to sessions after they’ve ended. Everything you need to know about these changes can be found in the following short documents.

Tutor Rubric 3.0

Guide to Tutor Rubric 3.0 and Session Tags

Guide to Your Tutor Workbook

Connecting Your Tutor Workbook

We ask that you familiarize yourself with the new Rubric, QA System, and Tags by this coming Monday. We’re excited to be starting another school year with all of you and want to hear any feedback you have on these changes over the coming weeks.

Thank you,

Team Yup

NEW Speed Policies and Features!

Why is speed so important?

As reported by students, speed is overwhelmingly the number one reason why they stop using our service. Many students tell us that they often find themselves waiting long periods of time to hear back from their tutors. Part of this has to do with the medium we’re using; when kids text each other, they expect immediate responses. With some minor changes in how we communicate, we can use this to our advantage to keep students more engaged.

How are we measuring speed?

If you’ve taken any sessions in the last few days, then you might have seen this bar in your Tutor Dashboard, which appears when at least 30 seconds have passed since you sent your last message:

If it shows up while you’re drawing on your whiteboard or waiting for your student to finish some work, don’t worry! This is just a reminder to be vigilant and periodically check in with your student. We will not be penalizing you just for letting this bar show up. We’ll soon be introducing policies that do depend on your response speed, though, so it’s important that you know how we measure it.

The feature above depends on how long it’s been since your last message; the new policies in the list below are linked to the time since your student’s last message or since anyone’s last message. In the future, we’ll refer to these last two values as your Tutor-To-Student (TTS) and Tutor-To-Anyone (TTA) response times.

When we calculate your TTS and TTA for a given week, we’ll use the median of these times, not the average, so that letting the student work alone every now and then won’t skew your data. For example, let’s say that your median TTA for a week is 15 seconds. This means that exactly half of your messages came more than 15 seconds after the previous one, and the other half came less than 15 seconds after.

What are the new speed policies?

Next Monday, July 17th, we’ll give you a way to see your median TTS and TTA from the previous week (meaning this current week). For each day of that week, we’ll also show you your median TTS and TTA for the day. The following Monday, July 24th, we’ll start holding everyone accountable for the following policies.

  1. Median TtS for a week is less than 10 seconds: $25 bonus
  2. Median TtA for a week is greater than 30 seconds: 2 infractions
  3. Any session contains a TtS response that took 5 minutes or more: Session refunded

Breaches of these last two policies are rare. Still, we are giving them real consequences to ensure that speed is a high priority in the coming months. We look forward to gathering your feedback on these policies in a few weeks’ time and continuing to refine them as we learn more. We’re fully aware that good explanations take time, but we’ve still found that several of our highest-performing tutors, including some whose native language isn’t English, have maintained a median TTS and TTA of under 10 seconds!

What are some strategies for increasing speed?

The following are some ideas to help you make sure that speed is never an issue. If you think of others, don’t hesitate to share!

  • Break messages into pieces. Be as brief as you can in each message while still being informative. When responding to interruptions and questions, send a short response immediately, then expand on it from there.
  • Explicitly acknowledge what the student has said. Try to use specific words or ideas that have recently shown up in the student’s messages. This helps them understand upcoming steps more quickly and creates a sense of continuous progress.
  • Reassure the student that you’re there. This is a good practice to follow in general and a simple way to avoid response times greater than 5 minutes. That said, you don’t need to check in every 15 seconds or so (which may actually annoy the student) because we use your median times and not your averages.

Keep up the great work,

Team Yup