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Internet-access-control software for parents and teachers a go for October

NetRef's teacher's panel alerts when students are off-task and allows for website and app blocking.

NetRef, a new solution for managing kids' and students' access to the Internet at home and at school, is gearing up for an October release. The product is being developed by Verite Educational Systems (VES), a spinoff from the Verite Group, a private software development and consultancy company founded in 2003 by George Dotterer.

VES joins the hot edtech market, which according to a press release announcing the spinoff, saw $500 million in investment in the first quarter of 2014 alone.

VES is developing two different versions of NetRef, one for schools and one for parents to use at home. NetRef acts as a gatekeeper, allowing adults to set limits on when kids can access the Internet and on which devices they can do so.

For example, if Mrs. Krabappel is teaching Algebra to 25 students and wants them to be able to use specific apps on tablets on devices students have brought from home, she can "turn off" the Internet for the devices in her classroom and still allow her students to use specific apps.

Similarly, parents can manage their children's laptops, tablets and phones from one panel and set limits, such as, "Homework time is from 6 to 8 pm, so you are only allowed to go to [certain] websites that are approved for homework," Dotterer says. "And you can say, 'Computer only, no phone.'"

Dotterer says that NetRef is different from other competitors in the space because it not only allows adults to control browser access but also the apps on devices that access the Internet. He also touts NetRef's simplicity as a differentiator. "Teachers [and parents] are the end-users," he says. "Using NetRef doesn't require an understanding of IT technology."

Dotterer piloted NetRef with a large high school in the D.C. area that he declined to name because "it is one of the three to five schools we are currently in negotiation with to become platinum partners." Those schools will receive promotional pricing on the tool in exchange for continuing to give Dotterer and his team feedback on NetRef. "Feedback is in our DNA," he says, "but we don't want to be overwhelmed. We have a lot of interest for Fall 2015 [adoption] because of schools' budget cycles."

A beta release for the home version of NetRef is scheduled for late fall, with a formal launch scheduled for spring. Both the school and home versions will be subscription based, with monthly and/or yearly fees yet to be determined. 

Verite Educational Systems is currently raising a Series A round. The company spun out from Verite Group with a $1.3 million seed investment from its management team and entrepreneur Taher Behbehani.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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  • NetRef
    Verite Educational Systems
    45240 Business Court, Suite 200
    Dulles, VA 20166 Website

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