UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2012

Introduction to the Survey Results

In addition to the technology questions we’ve been asking UVic Law students over the past ten years, we decided for the first year to ask more detailed questions about student use of tablets and e-readers for academic use, along with questions about their usage of “cloud” services for file storage and collaboration. This survey was completed by 126 incoming and transferring law students, which is a strong 90% plus response rate.

Executive Summary:

  • 89% of incoming law students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet (up from 84% last year and 50% two years ago), with 48% of the total being iPhones, 29% Android and 11% Blackberry (Blackberry usage down from 27% last year).
  • 31% of students own tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 19% last year.
  • When it comes to reading school related documents, students report reading those documents in bound books 46% of the time, on laptops 35% of the time, on laser printed pages 16% of the time, and on tablet devices 3% of the time.
  • 99% of students own laptops.  49% of laptops are Mac’s, and 48% Windows.
  • The students’ average typing speed is 49 wpm.
  • 68% of all students bring their laptops to school most days.
  • 75% of students use laptops to take class notes, 63% use pen and paper, 6% use tablets and 3% use their cell phones.
  • 53% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 7% use UVic email and 20% Hotmail.
  • 33% of students identified Google Drive as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing. 22% favor DropBox, 4% Apple iCloud and 3% Microsoft Sky Drive.
  • 95% of students use Facebook (down from 97% last year, but up from 91% two years ago), 34% user Twitter, 21% Linked In, 10% Google+ and 4% no online social networks.


Smart Phone / Cell Phone Ownership

89% of students own “Smart Phones” or phones with built in web browsers that allow them to surf the internet on their cell phones.  That is up significantly from 84% last year, and 50% of smart phone owners two years ago.  Blackberry ownership dropped significantly from 27% last year to 11% this year.

On the other end of the spectrum, 4% of students do not own a cell phone at all which is up from 2% last year. This is still significantly lower than the 11% of our sample of all law students who reported no cell phone in the spring of 2010. Just as laptop owner ship has been close to 100% since 2007, cell phone is now almost 100% as well.

From the library and faculty’s perspective this is an important area to watch, as there are a number of interesting new technologies (like QR Codes, NFC, Mobile websites and Adaptive websites) that could potentially enhance the services that depend on library patrons having access to the internet on their mobile devices.

Tablet Ownership & Reading Technology Usage
For the second time we asked students about their tablet device and/or eBook reader ownership and found that a growing number of students own these devices. This year 31% of students own ebook readers or tablets, up from 19% last year. If text book makers lower the cost of digital books relative to paper books, or if professors start to use more open access text books, we could see a rapid adoption of eBook readers and tablets.

When it comes to the technology currently used for reading school related documents, students read those documents in bound books 46% of the time, on laptops 35% of the time, on laser printed pages 16% of the time, and on tablet devices 3% of the time.  I expect that the amount of reading students do on tablets will grow as more tablets are purchased, and as more text books and documents are distributed in tablet friendly formats

Laptop Ownership & Internet Access from Home

Laptop ownership has plateaued in the high ninety percent over the past six years (this year at 99%). Currently only one first year student arrived without a laptop this September. 49% of all incoming laptops are Mac’s (down from 50% last year), 1% are Linux, and the remaining 48% are running Windows.

Desktop computer ownership stands at 17%, down from 28% last year.  2% of students do not have access to some form high speed internet in their homes. This is a change from the last two year when all student’s reported having high speed internet access from home.

How often do students bring their laptops & tablets to school
One only has to look in Law Faculty class in session to realize that at least 68% of students bring their laptops to school almost every day.  Does this open up pedagogical opportunities, or is it just a thorn in the side of faculty members?

Interestingly, 3% of laptop owners never bring their laptops to school with them. That combined with the 1% that do not own laptops, reinforces the need to maintain a small number of public access computers and loaner laptops available in the building, especially for exam writing.

The tablet e-book reader story is much different with 72% of students bringing those devices to school occasionally or never.  There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Weight. If students have to bring their laptop for note taking plus a text book or two, the extra weight could be an issue.
  2. If legal text books were widely available in eBook format, I suspect that tablet usage would increase dramatically so that students would not have to lug heavy text to school in their backpacks every day.


Typing Speed

Students this year report that they can type on average, 49 words per minute. The highest typing speed was 110 wpm, and the lowest 15 wpm.

Tools for Taking Class Notes
75% of students use laptops to take class notes at least some of the time.  63% use pen and paper, 6% use tablets and 3% use their cell phones.

Primary Email Account
Currently only 7% of students use their UVic email account as their primary email account (down from 9% last year). Most of he rest – 93% – forward their UVic email to a 3rd party email provider.  53% use Gmail as their primary account, and 20% use Hotmail, and 11% use their previous university’s email system.  96% of students check their email accounts one a day or more.

Favorite Tool for Collaborative Document Editing
This year 33% of students identified Google Drive as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing. 22% favor DropBox, 4% Apple iCloud and 3% Microsoft Sky Drive.

With more and more students using US based cloud service providers for collaborative document editing and backup, consideration should be given to providing students with a Canadian based alternative to minimize the effects of the Patriot act on students.

Social Media Usage

Currently 97% of students use Facebook. This is up from 91% last year.  Of the Facebook users, last year 70 % connected with other incoming students via Facebook, and another 7% did not, but would have liked to.

Student Comments and/or Suggestions:

Below are all of the comments from students at the end of the survey

  • Love it all, bro.
  • not sure of some answers (what tools I use in class, etc.) as I haven’t started yet!
  • staring at a computer screen is not good for my eyes
  • other nice cloud storage alternatives: Microsoft SkyDrive box.net
  • More texts in ebook format.
  • Thanks for the fun survey
  • This survey would be more useful to you in a month or two.


For those interested, here is a link to the full survey results.

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3 comments on “UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2012
  1. [...] technology for many years, and this year’s results are in. Here are a few highlights from the 2012 survey, released this past [...]

  2. [...] University of Victoria Faculty of Law, in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, conducted a survey of the technology the incoming class would use, including the use of tablets and e-readers. The results [...]

  3. […] UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2012 […]

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