UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2011

Introduction to the Survey Results

In addition to the technology questions we’ve been asking UVic Law students over the past nine years, we decided for the second year in a row to ask some extra questions about the mobile technology that students are arriving at Law School equipped with. This survey was completed by 139 incoming and transferring law students, which is a strong 90% plus response rate.

Executive Summary:

  • 84% of incoming law students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet (up dramatically from 50% last year), with 42% of the total being iPhones, 13% Android and 27% Blackberry’s.
  • 19% of students own tablet devices or ebook readers.
  • 98% of students own laptops, and 16% own both a laptop and a desktop computer.
  • 50% of student laptops are Mac’s, up from 44% last year.
  • The average laptop price stayed basically the same as last year at $1,186, which is down from $1400 in 2007, and from $2,100 in 2004.
  • The students’ average typing speed was was 60 wpm.
  • 72% of all students bring their laptops to school almost every day.
  • 55% of students use Gmail as their primary email account (up from 49% last year), 9% use UVic email and 22% Hotmail.
  • 60% of students identified MS Word as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing (down from 67%).  30% favor Google Docs (up from 27%) and 2% OpenOffice.
  • 58% of students report backing up their primary computer on a regular basis. 60% of those backing up do so to an external hard drive and 25% to a cloud storage solution.
  • 97% of students use Facebook (up from 91%) and 92% (up from 80%) would like to see law school events and activities published on Facebook as well as through the online faculty calendar. 25% use Twitter, 21% use linked in, and 16% use Google+.

Smart Phone / Cell Phone Ownership

84% 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 dramatically from 50% of smart phone owners last year.On the other end of the spectrum, 2% 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 is now almost 100% as well.I suspect that over the next two or three years close to 100% of students will either own a smart phone, an iPod Touch, an iPad or Android tablet device.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 along with a camera.

Tablet Device or Ebook Reader Ownership

For the first time we asked students about their tablet device and/or eBook reader ownership and found that most students do not have dedicated eBook readers. It will be interesting to see if a shift to digital reading of textbooks and other materials happens over time.  If text book makers lower the cost of digital books relative to paper books, we could see a rapid adoption of eBook readers.

Laptop Ownership

Laptop ownership has plateaued in the high ninty percent over the past five years (this year at 98%). Currently only three 1st year students arrived without a laptop this September. 50% of all incoming laptops are Mac’s (up from 39% last year), 1% are Linux, and the remaining 49% are running Windows (7% XP).The average price paid for student laptops has leveled out over the past two years at just under $1,200. In 2007 the average was $1400 and in 2004 $2,100. The increase in the number of higher priced Mac laptops is the probable cause of the leveling out of the purchase price of student laptops.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

One only has to look in Law Faculty class in session to realize that at least 72% 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 2% that do not own laptops, reinforces the need to maintain a certain number of public access computers and loaner laptops available in the building, especially for exam writing.

Typing Speed

Of the 73% of students who were able to tell us how many words per minute (wpm) they could type, the average was 60 wpm.

MP3 Player Ownership (besides smart phones)

95% of students own an MP3 Player or smart phone of some kind.  Of those students owning MP3 players, 96% own Apple products (up from 93% last year). For any instructors wishing to do podcasts of their lectures, there is no need to hold back any longer as the 5% 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 universiteshave done) which would make distributing the mp3’s of class lectures very simple to do.

Primary Email Account

Currently only 9% of students use their UVic email account as their primary email account. The rest – 91% – forward their UVic email to a 3rd party email provider.  55% use Gmail as their primary account, and 21% use Hotmail, and 9% use their previous university’s email.

Favorite Collaborative Document Editing Software

Microsoft Word continues to be the most popular tool for collaborative document editing at 61% (down from 67% last year).  Interestingly, Google Docs is preferred by 30% of students (up from 27%).

Social Media Usage

Currently 97% of students use Facebook. This is up from 91% last year.  Of the Facebook users, 70 % connected with other incoming students via Facebook (up from 57% last year), and another 7% did not, but would have liked to.92% of all students 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 80% recorded last survey and 65% two years ago.

Student Comments and/or Suggestions:

Below are some general comments from students at the end of the survey

  • Great survey!
  • I don’t want things posted to facebook because I don’t want the the situation to evolve to only posting things on facebook. This is because I would rather keep facebook for my personal use therefore I don’t have to check.
  • Access to UVic individual drives on law school library computers.
  • Any Ipad2 support would be useful for me.
  • Exam4 is not available for Linux users, unfortunately.
  • Make UVic mobile tools more android-friendly

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


  1. Belated thanks for doing this, Rich! Useful information for many of us in law school IT and communications roles. Hope to see you again at ESCon and/or CALICon 2012! Doug

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