An award-winning digital classroom app used by 11 million people globally will be offered free to New Zealand schools.

Subscriptions to Kami - a streamlined learning tool that allows teachers and students to communicate, share, and edit readings and worksheets - will be free for New Zealand teachers and students from early next week.

The app was created in 2013 by then Auckland University students Hengjie Wang, Jordan Thoms, and Alliv Samson.

Since then, the New Zealand-based founders focused on American schools which were slowly transitioning to digital learning.

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The platform had strong and steady growth, but the Covid-19 lockdown in North America spurred a staggering 500 per cent growth month on month as an additional four million users signed up.

"The Covid pandemic has fast-forwarded schools transitioning to digital by about four to five years," Samson told the Herald.

"With Covid here in New Zealand and students learning from home, we have now seen more schools asking if they can use Kami."

Kami now employs 31 staff and is hiring another 20 in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Kami now employs 31 staff and is hiring another 20 in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

Kami is already used by more than 860 schools in New Zealand but, with the growth of remote learning, the company wants to offer Kami to New Zealand's 2500 schools for free for the foreseeable future.

The app works on all devices, especially Chrome books and Microsoft 365, and integrates well with Google Classroom.

Teachers can share a homework sheet with their students and the student can edit it, highlight, add a video clip, or voice recording.

"It happens in real-time and the teacher can see the students work in real-time. There is no saving or losing work," Samson said.

"In classrooms, teachers are using Kami so they can get out from behind the desk and walk around and talk to the kids.

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"They can all be in the same document so it's like all the students have the whiteboard in front of them."

Samson said all the New Zealand school domain names had been added to Kami so teachers could access the app for free.

Kami co-founders (from left) Hengjie Wang, Alliv Samson and Jordan Thoms. Photo / Supplied
Kami co-founders (from left) Hengjie Wang, Alliv Samson and Jordan Thoms. Photo / Supplied

"If a parent or teacher signs up with the school domain they automatically get that licence," she said.

"If there are any we have missed, they can contact us and we can add that domain name."

Despite their overseas success the company remains based in New Zealand and employs locally apart from a few salespeople in North America.

The company applied for the wage subsidy for its team of 20 but found it didn't need it and instead increased the team to 31. They are now hiring another 20 - most of them local.

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The product has been nominated for and won several innovation awards and Samson was a finalist for both the New Zealander of the Year Awards and the Women of Influence Awards in 2019.

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