Tutors who teach quantitative subjects like Maths, Science, Engineering and Economics will almost certainly need to write equations or solve problems by hand in their tutorials, and thus will need an online whiteboard and a graphics tablet. Tutors in other subjects can benefit from them also. It's hard to teach well without ever writing!

We will also need to see their competent use demonstrated at the interview stage.

We are interested in creating and promoting a professional class of online tutors, Spires is not a budget platform full of make-shift tutors. We look for people who take some professional pride in their tutoring and are willing to invest time and effort in the tools of the trade to give good tutorials and help student's achieve their goals.

For an online whiteboard, we recommend BitPaper. It is the best online whiteboard that we know of. Students, particularly younger ones, seem to really enjoy using it. It allows them to write and participate in the class as well as save a copy of their notes for later. BitPaper is clean and user-friendly and allows uploading and writing over images, screen shots and PDFs, has infinite whiteboard space, built-in hotkeys, a communication system and is generally simple, fun and easy to use. Bitpaper operates a freemium model from $8 per month, but you don't have to pay monthly. $8 will give you 20 whiteboards which will last a long time for most users. It is free for students.

To use a pen on BitPaper, at a minimum, you will need a graphics tablet or a drawing tablet. We recommend Huions as the cheapest option, the H420 is the budget model and costs around £25 from Amazon. It is sufficient for the needs of most online tutors. There are other brands available, such as Wacom, which start at around £70, but come with additional features like wireless connections and nicer pens. XP Pen are another mid-range option at around £40.

Graphics tablets are not the same as a smart phone/iPad/android tablets. Although these will work with a few adjustments and some special software, they are very expensive relative to their benefits. If you have one, great, but we wouldn't recommend buying one especially. Smart tablets can be anything from £350-£2000. It is much more economical to buy a graphics tablet for beginners.

However, as an all round option for online tutoring, if you did want to invest, we recommend some of the higher-spec Microsoft Surfaces as probably the best all-round device to tutor on. They can be quite pricey at the high-end, but the built in pen and write-to-screen features, portability, reliability and build-quality are really cool for tutoring online. Some people use iPad pros to good effect for similar reasons, but we find iOS a bit limited relative to MacOS or Windows. Still a perfectly good option though.

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