Upswing Acquires Asynchronous Tutoring Company AskOnline

In December 2015, student success company, Upswing, acquired AskOnline to bolster its offerings through asynchronous tutoring. The acquisition means that existing AskOnline partners will now have access to Upswing’s modern tutoring technology and suite of student success services. This includes collaboration through real-time audio and video as well as access to Upswing’s expansive network of coaches.

With the acquisition, Upswing plans to rebrand AskOnline as AskUp by Upswing to fall in line with their other product offerings, TutorUp, AdviseUp, and MentorUp.

“AskOnline has a great arsenal of tools and software to keep students on track toward graduation. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to partner with such a well-respected company.”
Melvin Hines, Co-founder & CEO of Upswing

About Upswing

Upswing has adopted the mindset that student success should never be limited. Whether a student is focused on graduating, gaining workplace skills, or passing their class — their products work to help every student succeed. The software is easy-to-use and engaging, connecting students online with the right tutor, advisor, or teacher anytime, anywhere.

As Upswing serves more students, they’ve focused on providing more insights to school administrators through data analytics. Upswing gathers data through student activity on our platform and displays it in an accessible way to administrators (more in technology section).

“The most important thing that we do as a company is find unique ways to help more students succeed. By bringing on the expertise and data insights from AskOnline, we expect to have a much clearer picture of how to advance many of our student success initiatives.”
Alex Pritchett, Co-founder & COO of Upswing

History

Upswing, founded in 2013, started out as an online tutoring company in North Carolina focusing on small local community colleges. Upswing got their first community college contract for Spring 2014 with Central Carolina Community College. Since then, Upswing was accepted into the Tech Wildcatters accelerator in Dallas, TX where they met and merged with YourSigma. After completing the program, Upswing opened an office in both Durham, NC and Austin, TX. After receiving two grants, one from the United Way and one from NC IDEA, Upswing raised a $600k seed round to focus on product scalability and build out its HERO support model.

Growth

In the past year, Upswing has expanded from four full-time employees to 14. In Spring 2014, Upswing had two contracts. A year later, Upswing had partnerships with eight colleges. Entering Spring 2016, Upswing is partnered with 47 different colleges from across the United States and Canada. That’s over 500% growth in just one year.

Upswing is continuing to grow not only in the amount of partner colleges, but also the amount of impact at each college. As Upswing has moved away from exclusively online tutoring towards a more comprehensive student success approach, it has been able to increase the amount of value provided to schools through various product offerings.

Technology

Upswing’s tutoring, advising, and mentoring all takes place in the Virtual Learning Room. Here, students can collaborate with coaches through video/audio, chat, and a collaborative whiteboard area.

An example tutoring session on Upswing

Upswing integrates with each school’s login system to make sure that students don’t have to remember yet another set of credentials. This also ensures that student data is kept secure.

Once students log in, they’ll be able to search for the name of a class, a subject, or a specific coach. Students have access to Upswing’s vast array of over 1,000 coaches, and can even choose to work with coaches from their own school (not available at all schools).

Search results for “college algebra”

Once a student selects a coach, they’re able to learn more about the coach by looking through their profile.

An example of a coach profile

From this page, students can either select to have an immediate session (when the coach is available), or schedule a session for later. To get a good idea of what a session looks like, we’ve put together a complete demo of the Upswing system from the tutor perspective:

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyHRv4htZg8


After the tutoring session ends, data about the length of the session as well as feedback from the coach and student are recorded and used for analysis. By logging in to the Upswing Admin Dashboard, faculty can get a good idea of how Upswing is working at their college.

The first dashboard section gives admins a bird’s eye view of what’s going on.

First section of the dashboard tab

Near the bottom is the “All Sessions” section, where admins can see every session that has taken place on Upswing, and even drill down with specific queries.

These dashboards allow for administrators at each college to get both a high-level view on the overall picture of their student support system, while retaining the ability to access data on how to best support each unique student.

Overall, Upswing believes that this is just the beginning for their student success platform. As the average student continues to evolve, the importance in providing real-time personalized services will continue to increase. Upswing has shown that by focusing on student success and retention, they are a force to recon with in the space.

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