UVic Law Student Technology Survey 2013

Introduction to the Survey Results

The 10th annual law student technology survey results are now in.  I’m happy to also announce that the survey will be administered to a wide range of students in different faculties across campus this fall. The survey has been updated in collaboration with UVic Systems, and the UVic Libraries Assessment and Statistics Office. The data in this report reflects only the responses completed by 118 incoming and transferring UVic law students during their first day orientation, which has yielded a strong 90% plus response rate.  It will be very interesting to be able to compare student technology ownership and usage patterns across the university.

Executive Summary:

  • 96% of incoming law students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet (up from 89% last year and 50% three years ago), with 54% of the total being iPhones, 31% Android and 11% Blackberry (Blackberry usage is down from 27% two years ago). New law students are primarily using their mobile devices for directions, email, and looking up schedules & contact information.
  • Tablet & eBook ownership have doubled in the past year with 44% of students owning tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 31% last year. That said, 64% of students never bring their tablet or ebook reader to school, probably indicating a preference for laptops for note taking and research, and still heavy reliance on printed text books.
  • When asked if they would use a library run tablet lending program, 53% said they would not use it while 18% said they would use it daily or weekly.
  • 92% of students use Skype for real-time audio/video calls and collaboration. 42% use Apple Facetime and 9% use Google Hangouts.
  • 59% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 22% Outlook.com, and 6% use UVic email. Of the 6% of UVic email users, half forward their email to another service. It will be interesting to see if the recent NSA data snooping revelations will impact students’ current preference for USA based email providers in the coming years.
  • 49% of students identified Dropbox as their favourite tool for collaborative document editing, up from 22% last year. 41% use Google drive, up from 33% last year. 15% use Apple iCloud up from 4%. 3% use Microsoft Sky Drive which is unchanged from last year.
  • 92% of students use Facebook (down from 97% two years ago), 31% user Twitter, 19% Linked In, 8% Google+ and 3%  don’t use online social networks.
  • 97% of students own laptops. 57% of laptops are Macs, up from 49% last year. 44% use Windows, down from 48% last year.
  • 68% of students bring their laptops to school regularly & 21% bring them never or rarely.
  • 73% of students use laptops to take class notes, 72% use pen and paper, 3% use tablets and 4% use cell phones. 11% record lecture audio with their laptops or audio recorder.

Smart Phone / Cell Phone Ownership

Mobile Phone Ownership

96% 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 89% last year, and 50% three years ago. Blackberry ownership held steady at 11%, but is down from 27% two years ago.

On the other end of the spectrum, 4% of students own a regular mobile phone, and every student owns either a smartphone or regular mobile phone. Last year 4% of students did not own a mobile phone. As recently as 2010 11% of all law students did not own a mobile phone. Just as laptop ownership has been close to 100% since 2007, mobile phone ownership can now be taken for granted, and we’re almost to the point that smartphone ownership can be taken for granted among UVic Law students.

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

Tablet Ownership & Reading Technology Usage

Tablet Ownership
This is the third year we have asked students about their tablet device and/or eBook reader ownership and found that a growing number of students own these devices. This year 44% of students own ebook readers or tablets, up from 31% last year and 19% the year previous. If text book makers lower the cost of digital books relative to paper books, or if professors start to use more open access textbooks, we could see a continued rapid adoption of eBook readers and tablets.

Tablet Adoption Rate
It is interesting to note that even with a larger number of students owning tablet devices, 64% of them never bring their tablet or ebook reader to school (this is down from 72% last year who never brought their tablets to school). When asked if they would use a library run tablet lending program, 53% of students said they would not use it at all while 18% said they would use it daily or weekly. This probably indicates a preference for laptops for note taking and research, and the unavailability of many textbooks in eBook format. If legal textbooks were widely available in eBook format, I suspect that tablet usage would increase dramatically so that students would not have to lug heavy textbooks to school in their backpacks everyday.
Laptop Ownership & Usage at School

Laptop ownership has plateaued in the high ninety percent over the past six years (this year at 97%). 57% of all incoming laptops are Mac’s which is up significantly from 49% last year, and 44% are running Windows. It would be interesting to follow up with the Mac owners after graduation to see how smooth their transition is to the predominant Windows usage in law firms.

One only has to look in a Law Faculty class in session to realize that at least 79% 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?

5% of laptop owners never bring their laptops to school with them. That combined with the 3% 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.
Tools for Taking Class Notes & Recording Audio

Tools for Note Taking
73% of students use laptops to take class notes. 72% use pen and paper, which is up from 63% last year. For the first time we asked students about recording audio during lectures. 10% reported using either their laptop or a stand-alone audio recorder in lectures. This is not surprising given how popular faculty run recording programs are at other law schools.
Primary Email Account

Primary Email Account
Currently only 6% of students use their UVic email account as their primary email account (down from 9% two years ago). Most of the rest use a 3rd party email provider. 59% use Gmail as their primary account (up from 53%), 22% use Outlook.com (formerly known as Hotmail), and 4% use their previous university’s email system. Of the 6% of students who use UVic email addresses, half of those forward their email to a 3rd party account, and the other half use UVic’s webmail interface. 99% of students check their email accounts once a day or more.
Favourite Tools for Collaborative Document Editing

Collaborative Document Editing
This year 49% of students identified Dropbox as their favourite tool for collaborative document editing. 41% favour Google Drive, 15% 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 (and associated NSA data collection) on students.
Favourite Tools for Real-Time Audio & Video Collaboration

Favourite Video Collaboration Tools
The big three of desktop video conferencing and collaboration for students are Microsoft Skype at 61%, Apple Facetime at 33%, and Google Hangouts at 6%.

Social Media Usage

Social Media
Currently 92% of students use Facebook. This is down from 97% last year, and the same as two years ago. Of the Facebook users, last year 84% connected with other incoming students via Facebook up from 70% last year, and another 13% did not, but would have liked to. It seems that while the number of Facebook users is down somewhat, the students who continue to use are connecting more quickly with their classmates.

See below for selected survey results from previous years:


Leave a Reply