UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2010

Introduction to the Survey Results

In addition to the technology questions we’ve been asking UVic law students over the past seven years, we decided to ask some extra questions about the increasing important mobile technology that students are arriving at Law School equipped with.  One major change to the methodology of this survey compared to past years is that we sent the survey to all students at the law school, not just first year students.  The response rate was 25% this year rather than close to 100% in previous years.

[Note: if you have problems seeing any graphs on this page, please look at the underlying Google Doc’s page for this blog post]

Executive Summary:

  • 30% of students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet.
  • 97% of students own laptops, and over 60% own both a laptop and a desktop computer.
  • 39% of student laptops are Mac’s.
  • The average laptop price dropped to $1,200 from $1400 in 2007, and from $2,100 in 2004.
  • All students now report having high speed internet in their homes.
  • 82% of students bring their laptops to school almost every day.
  • 86% of students own MP3 players capable of listening to recorded lectures.
  • 54% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 18% use UVic email and 15% Hotmail.
  • 58% of students identified MS Word as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing.  27% chose Google Docs, 5% OpenOffice Writer & 10% “Other”.
  • 100% of students now have access to high speed internet at their homes.
  • 86% of students use Facebook and 65% of those students would like to see law school events and activities published on Facebook as well as through the online faculty calendar of events.

Smart Phone / Cell Phone Ownership

4. I do not own a cell phone  – 11%
3. Regular cell phone  –  59%
2. Smart phone – iPhone –  9%
1. Smart phone – Blackberry –  16%
0. Smart phone – Other  –  5%

30% of students own “Smart Phones” or phones with built in web browsers that allow them to surf the internet on their cell phones.

From the library’s perspective this will be an important area to watch, as there are a number of interesting new technologies (like QR Codes) that could potentially enhance the library’s services that depend on library patrons having access to the internet on their cell phones.

On the other end of the spectrum, surprisingly 11% of students do not own a cell phone at all.  Given how ubiquitous cell phones are becoming, I suspect that this number will drop over time. The high cost of cell phone plans in Canada relative to other countries probably contributes to the number of students with out cell phones.

Laptop Ownership

For the first time, all respondents to the survey report having either a laptop, a desktop computer, or both.

Laptop ownership has plateaued at 97% after years of steady increases. Currently 39% of all laptops are Mac’s, 3% are Linux, and the remaining 58% are running Windows.

The average price paid for student laptops has dropped again to just over $1,200 this year from $1400 in 2007, and $2,100 in 2004.

Desktop computer ownership has been increasing over the past two surveys, with over 60% of students owning both a laptop and a desktop computer.  All students now have access to high speed internet in their homes.

How often do students bring their laptops to school

Almost every day  –  82%
More than once a week  –  10%
Occasionally  –  8%
Never  –  0%

One only has to look in Law Faculty class in session to realize that at least 82% 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?

MP3 Player Ownership

4. No  –  14%
3. iPod (audio only)  –  61%
2. iPod Touch  –  21%
1. iPhone  –  8%
0. Other  –  10%

86% of students own an MP3 Player of some kind.  Of those students, 88% own Apple products. For any instructors wishing to do podcasts of their lectures, there is no need to hold back any longer as the 14% of students with out PM3 players can review class lecture podcasts on their laptops.  Campus Systems is considering setting up a UVic iTunes site (like other universites have done) which would make distributing the mp3’s of class lectures very simple to do.

Primary Email Account

7. UVic  –  18%
6. Previous University  –  3%
5. Hotmail  –  15%
4. Gmail  –  54%
3. Yahoo  –  4%
2. Shaw  –  6%
1. Telus  –  0%
0. Other  –  1%

Currently only 18% of students use their UVic email account as their primary email account.  The rest – 82% – forward their UVic email to a 3rd party email provider.  52% use Gmail as their primary account, and 15% use Hotmail.

Favorite Collaborative Document Editing Software

Microsoft Word  –  58%
WordPerfect  –  0%
OpenOffice Writer  –  5%
Google Docs  –  27%
Other  –  10%

Microsoft Word is currently the most popular tools for collaborative document editing at 58%.  Interestingly, Google Docs is preferred by 27% of students. The strong showing of Google Docs is probably due to it’s real time collaboration features that allow multiple authors to work on a document at the same time with built in version control.

High Speed Internet

This is probably the last year that we will mention this question in the survey summary, because after coming close to 100% in previous years, this year, 100% of students responded that they now have access to high speed internet at their homes.

Facekook Usage

Currently 86% of students use Facebook. This is up marginally from 79% two years ago.  Of the Facebook users, 69% connected with other incoming students via Facebook, and another 3% did not, but would have liked to.

65% of Facebook users would like to see Law School events and activities published on Facebook as well as in the online Faculty calendar.

Some students voiced strong reservations about mixing their “business” and “personal” lives on Facebook.  It was also mentioned that many Law School and LSS events are already on Facebook via “organic” groups.  What might be interesting to pursue is to ask the LSS to post all Law Faculty events on their group, so that those who use Facebook can have the option of subscribing to a complete list of Law Faculty and LSS events with out Law Faculty or Staff being involved on Facebook. This would address the primary privacy concern of students.  We would also continue to provide our in house Calendar for those who do not use Facebook, or who do not want to use Facebook in this manner.

Student Comments:

  • Beyond the issue of direct interactions with staff and professors, I have concerns about the encroachment of other law school activities into the Facebook world. How long will it be until law firms begin using the law school networks to interact with students? This would raise serious issues of personal information being revealed to a prospective employer which, by law, may not be released to them (marital status, sexual orientation, age, religion and other personal attributes are often easily ascertained when viewing a person’s profile).
  • Many of the law school events are already published to facebook – i.e. LSS events, guest speakers brought in by clubs, etc. However, it would be helpful to have all events on Facebook, for example the LCO events.
  • There is already a great deal of law school activity on facebook. I’m not sure if it would be worth it for the faculty to consider implimenting facebook into social networking as there is already a very organic and active network there. almost every student or club-organized.  event is already on facebook.  Don’t get too excited about it.
  • Ban it from classrooms. just one thing i notice missing from the survey: lots of students have a powerful laptop that they keep at home for the most part, except maybe for exam writing at school. then they also have a netbook which they keep at school for note taking, web, email etc. this is a growing trend I think.
  • Personally, I don’t like to receive multiple notifications of the same event via different media. Since everybody doesn’t have facebook, it probably wouldn’t make sense to use it as the primary communciation tool. However, having a calendar or other pages available to access as desired could potentially be helpful.
  • Very invasive.
  • Facebook is a social tool, not a professional one. For many people, embarrassing and awkward situations have arisen due to forgetting this distinction. I intentionally segregate my personal Facebook from my professional activities and formal acquaintances.
  • For better or for worse, the Faculty of Law at UVic is a formal, professional acquaintance for students in the program.
  • Let the Business students across Ring Road “network” and self-promote. As future lawyers, we have an obligation to professional and respectful dealings with each other. Please help maintain and perpetuate this atmosphere rather than moving law school activities onto Facebook and contributing to a downward slide into informality and familiarity.
    This is the second time the law school has asked this about facebook.
  • I know you guys are old but please… use your head. Facebook = social tool. Law school = career tool. NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET.
  • Would the law school phone me at home to invite me to a social event? No. If they did I would be annoyed. Similarly, I don’t want Facebook invites from the law school inviting me to social events.
  • I already get MEGA SPAMMED by the law school by email. This is irritating. I do not want Facebook spam too. If nobody comes to the events it’s not because nobody knows about them, it’s probably because they are boring.
  • Sorry, but someone’s gotta say it.  Facebook is a social tool and is not professional enough to be used as a tool for official university messages. I have considered deleting my Facebook account because of concerns about future employers looking at personal social information out of context. There may be other social networking tools that the school could appropriately use, but I strongly believe that Facebook is not one of them.
    Facebook should not be used in relation to law school, especially in publishing law school events.
  • set up a facebook block in the classrooms so students cannot access f/b during classes.
    I would like to see events made available via a general RSS feed. I would like those events to include student events.
  • I dislike Facebook but joined because I found it was a necessary tool for staying in contact with other law students re study groups, etc.
  • I hesitate to encourage widespread Facebook use. Many career-related CBA speakers have told us that in fact social networking can be detrimental to both privacy and career. It is also–from what I can see around me in class every day–a huge time-waster and almost an addiction.
  • The more things that are put on facebook, the more it becomes close to compulsory in use, even to those of us who are consciously eschewing its use for good reasons.
  • Facebook can be alienating for certain demographics. Using it is kinda like mandating gym class or sororities: i.e. it’s great for athletes and rich kids; less so for others.
  • Facebook is a massive waste of time. It is also a huge distraction in class where classmates are constantly “facebooking” in front/beside us.
  • Rarely use it, and not for organizing my schedule.
  • I would prefer not to have law school events on facebook, but it just seems to be the only forum that connects most law students in a way that is efficient for informing students and promoting events for clubs. I sincerely hope that the faculty and administration doesn’t start using facebook…


  1. Here is a link to the survey questions in case you are interested: http://bit.ly/cJesN6

    This is a survey we’ve done over the past 7 years, although this year we started asking questions about mobile computing and email for the first time.

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