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Summary of the BEV Background Questionnaire

The content contained within the Research section of the site is for archival purposes, and may or may not be current.

There are currently about 860 BEV members; this number is growing steadily at a rate of approximately 150 users per month. Since the Fall of 1993, 424 background questionnaires have been collected from the BEV members. Below is a summary of some of the findings.

Computer Usage

The majority of BEV users have PC compatible computers (83%) while 16% use Macintoshes. More than half own more than one computer (54%) and almost half indicated that additional users work with their computer (48%).

In general BEV members have a significantly more computer experience than network experience.


 Computer Experience

 Network Experience

Not at all experienced



A little experienced



Somewhat experienced



Very experienced



Joining and Using BEV

Most people learned about BEV through local media (46%). Other mechanisms included Virginia Tech sources such as the Collegiate Times and Virginia Tech employees (16%) and other BEV users (13%). A small number learned about the project through the BEV staff (5%) and Town staff (5%).

Users were asked to indicate how helpful they thought BEV would be in supporting a number of personal and community activities such as:



formal learning

informal learning


support for business

civic affairs


consumer affairs

social relations



medical services



Response patterns for most of these were essentially the same with the largest number indicating each of these would be "somewhat helpful," fewer indicating "little helpful" and "very helpful," and the fewest number indicating "not helpful." One notable exception to this standard pattern was that 92% of the people thought BEV would be somewhat or very helpful to informal learning. Medical services received the lowest rating with 69% reporting that BEV wouldn't be helpful at all or very little.

The users indicated a willingness to use BEV to learn and that was similarly reflected in their eagerness to try out the range of Internet services such as:

Electronic Mail


Bulletin Boards and Newsgroups

Transferring Files


Accessing Library Catalogs

Accessing Information Databases


Using Remote Computers

At least half of the respondents were "very eager" and less than 4% were "not eager" to try each of these services. The only exception was remote computing. On this issue, they were divided as to whether they were "not eager" (10%), a "little eager" (27%), "somewhat eager" (31%), or "very eager" (33%). Several respondents had indicated that they didn't understand what remote computing meant and therefore did not answer or rated their eagerness low.

User Profiles

Most of the BEV members are not affiliated with Virginia Tech (52% vs 48%). Of the Tech affiliates, 76 are faculty, 27 are staff, and 97 are students. We are proud to count among our members 16 retired citizens, 32 school teachers, 92 small business owners, and 7 homemakers. The average age of our users is 36 years of age. Our youngest user is 13 and 146 senior citizens are using BEV. Males count for 79% of the group size. Most people have cable TV (71%).

The group has a wide range of educational backgrounds. Graduate degrees have been earned by 37% of the group, another 30% hold bachelor's degrees, and 23% have some college experience. The mean income is in the $30,000 to 40,000 range; all income brackets are represented.

The most popular newspaper (of the alternatives given) was the Roanoke Times which was read by 81% of the respondents. This was followed by the Collegiate Times (43%), the Washington Post (32%), the News Messenger (26%), and USA Today (24%).

prepared by Cortney Vargo (