11th Annual UVic Law Student Technology Survey

You have to admire Rich McCue’s curiosity and generosity. For the 11th year, the UVic educational technologist and systems administrator has surveyed the law school’s incoming students on their technology use in terms of hardware, software and habits, and shared the results online.

Rich has drafted the results up nicely with helpful graphs, and also identified implications of the results: both suggestions for profs and faculties, and ideas for future surveys.

Here’s the executive summary:

  •  Smartphones: 100% of incoming law students surveyed own “Smartphones” that can browse the internet (up from 96% last year and 50% four years ago), with 56% of the total being iPhones, 30% Android and 0% Blackberry. New law students are primarily using their mobile devices for directions, email, and looking up schedules & contact information.
  • Tablet & eBook ownership has doubled in the past two years with 59% of students owning tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 31% two years ago. iPads make up 53% of those tablets. 35% of tablet owners bring it to school every day. Faculties should endeavour to provide coursepack and textbooks in eBook formats for students.
  • Videoconferencing: 100% of students use Skype for real-time audio/video calls and collaboration. 48% use Apple Facetime and 17% use Google Hangouts. This opens up opportunities for faculties to make courses more widely accessible by offering blended or multi-access courses that use both face-to-face and video lectures.
  • Email: 62% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, and 4% use UVic email. To check their @uvic.ca email, 56% forward their email to another service, and 28% use the UVic webmail interface. Over the past few years many students have complained at lack of storage space and antiquated @Uvic.ca email interface for students.
  • Document Sharing: 77% of students use Google Drive for collaborative document editing, and 62% use Dropbox, both up significantly from last year. Efforts should be made to educate students on the impact of the US Patriot act on the security of their documents when they use US based cloud services.
  • Social Media: 92% of students use Facebook (down from 97% two years ago), 31% user Twitter, 19% LinkedIn, and 3% don’t use online social networks. In spite of some negative comments about social media, 79% of students used social media to connect with other students before the start of the school year.
  • Laptops: 100% of students own laptops. 54% of laptops are Macs, up from 49% two years ago. 46% use Windows. 54% of students bring their laptops to school on a daily basis and 8% never bring them to school.
  • Note Taking: 71% of students use laptops to take class notes, 92% use pen and paper, 8% use tablets and 8% use cell phones. Consideration should be given to discussing the potential drawbacks associated with using laptops for transcription style class notes in a first year class, and faculty members should explore ways to creatively use personal technology to engage students more deeply during class time.


  1. Wonderful to have this research available to the profession, Steve. The videoconferencing and table usage statistics are particularly interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 0% on Blackberry, while not really surprising, is the stat that really jumped out at me. I remember polling the room at a legal tech conference approximately 5 years ago and at that point virtually the entire room full of lawyers was running Blackberries. When technology usage shifts, it does so quickly and in a massive way. Something for firms to consider as the next generation comes on board and brings different technology expectations and experiences with them. As ever, thanks to Rich McCue for his annual peek into the future.

  3. I think the drop in Facebook use is quite something. When five percent fewer students report using Facebook over a single year, that’s a number I want to see what happens to next year!
    A while ago there was a brouhaha over a sloppy Princeton study that suggested Facebook would lose most of its users by 2017. It was ridiculed, but there was some weight to the prediction that Facebook may struggle under the strain of not being cool anymore, plus its privacy issues.
    Incidentally, I just got an account on a new social network that’s in Beta, called Ello.co.
    Anyone checked that out yet?