Website review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2017


Versatile annotation tool helps users critically connect with content

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 12 reviews
Privacy rating
90%| Pass Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Easy to upload and share files; promotes collaboration and a paperless classroom.

Cons: Some features are awkward to use and will require practice; limited use on mobile devices, and the free version may frustrate some.

Bottom Line: Kami is an effective way to promote student interaction with texts, authentic documents, and pictures.

Since Kami is an open-ended tool, the possibilities for use are diverse and far-reaching. Students can look at a piece of art or literature, write a critique, and compare their critique to published ones. Or they can annotate a poem alongside supporting historical documents and pictures in order to gain contextual understanding. Challenge students to be more information-literate by comparing different headlines for the same event and identifying bias, or provide historical documents followed by a close reading of critiques or editorials of the time period. Teach expository writing by having students pair up to write descriptions of objects, and have their partners draw the objects on a blank page. Upload a PDF of a famous inventor's journal and have students collaboratively annotate the scientific process the inventor used.

Need documentation? Students can easily demonstrate their understanding of the writing process via peer-editing or self-editing while teachers add feedback via the Comment feature. And weekly article annotations about high-interest topics allow students opportunities to interact with text and spark engaging classroom discussions. No more running to the copier!

PDFs can be added, split or merged, and pushed out or linked in minutes, as long as you can find the PDFs. That said, adding search capabilities to find and add PDFs right in the tool would be a great addition. Although some of the features may take some getting used to, the tool is fairly easy to learn, and there are plenty of ideas and information available on Kami's website, community forums, and social media pages.

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With Kami, teachers can share PDF files with students, and students can annotate the files via track pad or keyboard shortcuts using several different features, including Highlight, Add Text, Draw On, Add Shapes, and more. Users can either upload PDF files from their computer or from Google Drive, or create blank documents or assignments via Google Classroom (with the paid plan). Kami automatically saves all files as they're uploaded, so this is a great option for teachers who want to go paperless. Teachers can also merge PDF files so that students can work with multiple files on one screen.

Certain features do not work on a tablet, such as moving the text boxes, highlighting phrases, or changing colors. In the basic version, teachers can send or embed a link enabling students to annotate a document, or they can save PDFs for students to access in Google Drive. Premium features include syncing with Google Classroom to send out to or collect documents from up to 150 students. Additional premium features include adding images and blank pages to open documents along with a text-to-speech tool, which reads the PDFs to students.

In the right hands, Kami provides a way to bring context to lessons for nearly any subject. It supports critical reading by allowing teachers to guide and comment on students' annotations and by giving students a way to make connections between different documents. This is a fantastic way to provide visual aids to texts and allow students to interact with material and make meaningful connections. Add to that the fact that it's easy to convert documents to PDF files, and teachers have a very real tool to enable them to run a paperless classroom.

With Kami, teachers can upload any PDF file within seconds and share it with students. For this reason, teachers should avoid using Kami as a worksheet substitution tool. Having students simply fill out online worksheets does them and this tool a disservice. Lessons that promote critical thinking and creativity can be quickly and easily uploaded, but it will take some thoughtful planning to ensure that students are getting the most out of the materials; it would be nice to see Kami develop a lesson repository where teachers can share and vote on effective lessons.

Drawing is easier on a tablet versus a laptop or desktop, but for most other features, mobile devices are not ideally suited for Kami. The user experience can be a bit clumsy, but overall Kami's easy to learn and use.

Overall Rating


Students will like the interactive features of this tool, most notably the highlighting and drawing capabilities, but teachers will still need to design thoughtful and engaging lessons to provide the best learning experience. 


Contextualizing content using artifacts and visual aids is a great way to enhance student understanding. Ease of use provides for easy transfer of content, but teachers should be cautioned against using Kami simply for substitution.


Kami's website and social media pages provide access to written and video tutorials, user questions and answers, and ideas for how to use the tool effectively. Mobile device use is possible but not ideal.

Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Instructional Technology Facilitator

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Jane W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
J.C. Booth Middle School
Peachtree City, United States
Kami-Quick and easy!
Even though my students don't care for the program, I continue to use it because I find it to be an easy way for me to organize and access student work. It definitely helps when I want to share a piece of writing, on my smart board, and annotate over it. I think there could be an easier menu. My students are generally pretty tech savvy, and they sometimes even struggle with the menu options. (particularly when saving their work.)
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Users can control their information through privacy settings.
Users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are not displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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