UVic Law Student Technology Survey – Fall 2010

Introduction to the Survey Results

In addition to the technology questions we’ve been asking UVic Law students over the past eight years, we decided to ask some extra questions about the increasingly important mobile technology that students are arriving at Law School equipped with. We also asked about previous in class laptop exam experience, and what their estimated typing speed it.  This survey was completed by 127 incoming and transferring law students, which is an over 90% response rate.

Executive Summary:

  • 50% of incoming students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet.
  • 99% of students own laptops, and 27% own both a laptop and a desktop computer.
  • 44% of student laptops are Mac’s.
  • The average laptop price dropped to $1,198 from $1400 in 2007, and from $2,100 in 2004.
  • Of the 72% of students who were able to tell us how many words per minute (wpm) they could type, the average was 60 wpm. Only 14% type less than 40 wpm.
  • 71% of students bring their laptops to school almost every day.
  • 87% of students own MP3 players capable of listening to recorded lectures.
  • 49% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 6% use UVic email and 26% Hotmail.
  • 67% of students identified MS Word as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing.  27% chose Google Docs, 2% OpenOffice Writer & 5% “Other”.
  • 91% of students use Facebook and 80% 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

– I do not own a cell phone  – 5%
– Regular cell phone  –  45%
– Smart phone – iPhone –  22%
– Smart phone – Blackberry –  15%
– Smart phone – Other  –  13%

50% 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 is 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. Apple’s new iPod Touch also has a camera built in which will make it very similar in how it can be used to take advantage of potential new library services.

On the other end of the spectrum, 5% of students do not own a cell phone at all. This is 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 ownership will continue to approach 100% in the next two years.

Laptop Ownership

Laptop ownership is now at 99%. Only once 1st year student arrived without a laptop this September. Currently 44% of all laptops are Mac’s, 3% are Linux, and the remaining 53% are running Windows.

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

Desktop computer ownership stands at 28%., down from last year.  All students have had access to high speed internet in their homes for two years now.

How often do students bring their laptops to school

Almost every day  –  71%
More than once a week  –  10%
Occasionally  –  15%
Never  –  5%

One only has to look in Law Faculty class in session to realize that at least 71% 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, 5% of laptop owners never bring their laptops to school with them. This reimforces the need to maintain a certain number of public access comptuers availiable in the

Laptop Exam Writing & Typing Speed

Only 15% of students indicated that they had experience writing an in class exam on a laptop.

Of the 72% of students who were able to tell us how many words per minute (wpm) they could type, the average was 60 wpm. 14% of students reported that they type less than 40 wpm.

MP3 Player Ownership

– No  –  13%
– iPod (audio only)  –  53%
– iPod Touch  –  24%
– iPhone  –  20%
– Other  –  7%

87% of students own an MP3 Player of some kind.  Of those students, 93% own Apple products. For any instructors wishing to do podcasts of their lectures, there is no need to hold back any longer as the 13% 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

– UVic  –  6%
– Previous University  –  10%
– Hotmail  –  26%
– Gmail  –  49%
– Yahoo  –  4%
– Shaw  –  2%
– Telus  –  1%
– Other  –  2%

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  –  67%
WordPerfect  –  1%
OpenOffice Writer  –  2%
Google Docs  –  27%
Other  –  4%

Microsoft Word is currently the most popular tools for collaborative document editing at 67%.  Interestingly, Google Docs is preferred by 27% of students.

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 2007, this year and last, 100% of students responded that they now have access to high speed internet at their homes.

Facekook Usage

Currently 91% of students use Facebook. This is up from 79% three years ago.  Of the Facebook users, 57% connected with other incoming students via Facebook, and another 17% did not, but would have liked to.

80% of Facebook users would like to see Law School events and activities published on Facebook as well as in the online Faculty calendar.  This is a significant increase over the 65% recorded last survey.

A few students commented that while they would like activities posted to Facebook, they wanted to make sure that non Facebook users would have easy access to activity notifications as well.

Student Facebook Comments:

  • As long as events and activities aren’t exclusively posted on facebook, I could see the advantage of using that site. I tend not to check facebook often.
  • Just to try to make sure people not using Facebook can access any important information that is posted to Facebook.
  • I agree with the use of Facebook provided that the privacy of students’ profiles are maintained.
  • I don’t like getting inundated with messages in my facebook inbox.
  • Good idea to have law events posted on Facebook, although the use of Facebook in class is really distracting and irritating for those of us who want to pay attention to the professor.
  • Put what we need to type in the facebook search in one of the hard copy handouts in the initial package tailored for each student. Thanks for the great info re: library comps etc 🙂
  • I would not recommend that UVIC Law overuses Facebook as it has been noted that Facebook must be used with discretion for professional ethical reasons. But it is a great tool to keep up to date on events.
  • Do not use Facebook.
  • I am currently looking for an alternative to facebook that dose’nt require supporting a private company.
  • I’d rather use Facebook less.
  • I have a lot of clutter already on my facebook.


  1. Thanks for publishing this Survey Rich. I work in a law firm that hires articling students and this is extremely valuable information.
    Just curious: Are you going to ask who uses iPads in next years survey?
    Cheers, Shaunna Mireau

  2. Shaunna, a few people have asked me about iPad usage among students. I have added that question for next year’s survey, and have also sent an email out to our first year listserv asking that students with iPad’s to email me back, so I should get a rough idea of numbers in a day or two. I’ll make sure to post them here, and share that number with Simon F. on Slaw.ca.

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