Internet cafés have become main centers for information access in Turkey. Recently universities have started their own Internet cafés. The purpose of this study was to identify how students used Internet cafés in universities and the problems they faced when using these cafés. Basicly, Turkish university students used Internet cafés for academic activities; they found the service fees rather high.
Internet cafés sind Hauptzentren für InformationenZugang in der Türkei geworden. Heutzutage haben alle Universitäten begonnen ihre Internetcafés zu öffnen. Der Zweck dieses ForschungStudiums sollte identifizieren, wie UniversitätStudenten Internet cafés in ihrer Universität benutzen und mit welchen Problemen sie konfrontiert sind, als sie den Internet benutzen. Das Hauptergebnis zeigte, daß die türkischen Studenten die Internetcafés für akademische Aktivitäten verwenden und sie fanden die Service-Gebühren ganz hoch. Die Studie versucht, aufzuzeigen, wie die Zunkunft der Internetcafes in der Türkei wohl aussehen wird.
Purpose and methodology
Findings and results
Turkey’s first experience with Internet started in 1990 with EARN (European Academic and Research Network). With this first attempt, Ege University had connections internationally with Pisa and Montpellier Universities. The first national connection Ege University realized was with Anadolu and Yildiz Technical Universities. The second attempt was realized in 1993 via Middle East Technical University. This connection was used for a long time, until the universities started to provide their connections via ULAKNET, an academical initiative, in 1997. It is only after ULAKNET, that a speeder and a commercial connection TTNET started to provide service to larger populations (Odabasi, 2005). There were 600,000 users in 1997 whereas it reached six million in 2005 (Internet World Stats, 2005). The estimated population of uers will reach 12 million in 2010 (Turk.Internet.Com, 2004).
Examining Internet users in Turkey, 41.2 percent access the Internet in Internet cafés (DIE, 2004). Additionally, 41.1 percent access the Internet in their offices and 32.3 percent access the Internet in their homes (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The access environment of Internet users in Turkey.
Students in Turkey use the Internet services with higher level percentage than the other user groups (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Internet users in Turkey according to workforce.
A closer examination of the statistics notes that university students (graduate/postgraduate) use Internet services at a higher level percentage than the other groups (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Educational level of Internet users in Turkey.
Turkish entrepreneurs have opened Internet cafés on almost every street in major cities. Internet cafés can be described as oneroom environments with 1020 computers connected to Internet. In Turkey users can benefit from a snack or a drink (nonalcoholic) while connecting to the Internet (Odabasi, 2003).
With the increase in the number of commercial Internet cafés, universities started their own cafés. University students use these Internet cafés to access the Internet since only 26.2 percent of students have access to computers and the Internet in their homes (Golge and Ari, 2002). The high cost of computers and Internet services — compared to an average Turkish university student’s income means that these cafés are a logical alternative.
University Internet cafés can be characterized as Internet cafés as one might find commercially but they are located on university campuses and are specifically designed to serve the academic community. University Internet cafés have several advantages compared to public Internet cafés. University Internet cafés provide their targeted audiences with access to online databases licensed for sole use by the academic community. These databases are not available in public Internet cafés. Additionally, there are additional facilities in University Internet cafés such as preparing assignments, watching films, and downloading files which are not supported in public Internet cafés. Printing costs and other media are less expensive compared to public Internet cafés.
Many universities in Turkey are now planning to open these cafés to the public. This study examines the use of university Internet cafés by students’ and the problems they face in these cafés. Understanding patterns of use in these Internet cafés will assist university administrators in their future plans.
Purpose and methodology
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of university Internet cafés by university students and the problems they face in this environment.
A sample was recruited through three demographically and geographically diverse cities in Turkey Eskisehir, Sakarya and Konya. This study is a pilot project for a nationwide study; hence the sample was organized to present the country in some fashion so the universities and the researchers were chosen based on out collective experiences at other institutions in Turkey.
Table 1: Profile of respondents Number Percent of total Gender Male 180 61 Female 115 39 Universities Selcuk University 140 47.5 Sakarya University 78 26.4 Anadolu University 77 26.1 Faculty Education 103 34.9 Engineering 78 26.4 Business administration 24 8.2 Vocational high school 22 7.4 Science and art 16 5.4 Technical education 13 4.4 Communication 8 2.7 Law 8 2.7 Institute 5 1.7 Open faculty 1 0.3 Not specified 17 5.8 Grade Prep 4 1.4 First year 81 27.5 Second year 82 27.8 Third year 78 26.4 Senior 50 16.9
Altogether 295 respondents participated in this project. The questionnaire was constructed by doctoral students in Anadolu Universitys Computer and Educational Technology department as a requirement for the class BTO615 Article Research.The questionnaire for this study was developed after a rigorous literature review. A questionnaire with 56 items was sent to experts for review. Based on their comments and approval, a final questionnaire was constructed.
The questionnaire contained five major parts. The initial part asked for personal information about gender, university, faculty and grade. Section two identified knowledge of the Internet and use of Internet cafés. The third part examined which search engines were in use. Section four investigated reasons for using Internet cafés. Finally the last section asked what kinds of problems students encountered in Internet cafés.
Findings and results
As can be seen in Table 2, only a minority of students surveyed (30.8 percent) took a course on computers before their use of Internet cafés. A majority of students are using Internet cafés 123 respondents (41.7 percent) indicated that they frequent cafés several times a week, 78 respondents ( 26.4 percent) answered once a day and 7 respondents (2.4 percent) answered several times in day. Many students are regular patrons of Internet cafés.
Table 2: Knowledge and routines of respondents Number Percent of total Computer courses I Have taken 91 30.8 No I havent taken 202 68.5 Not specified 2 0.7 Frequency of use university Internet cafés Once a month 30 10.2 Once a week 57 19.3 Several times a week 123 41.7 Once a day 78 26.4 Several times in day 7 2.4 Time spent in university Internet cafés Less than an hour 42 14.2 12 hours 201 68.1 3 hours or more 51 17.3
It is interesting that a majority of students use Internet cafés in the range of one to two hours. 1 hour to 2 hour by 201 respondents (68.1 percent) and 51 respondents (17.3 percent) spent 3 hour or more. Adomi, et al. (2004) found at Delta State University in Nigeria that a majority of students (88 percent) used the Internet café one hour or less. There might be some universal limit for student use based on schedules and other demands.
Table 3: Kinds of sites visited Number Percent of total Education 184 62.4 News 163 55.3 Chat 92 31.2 Sports 77 26.1 Games 59 20.0 Shopping 37 12.5 Other 95 32.2
On the kinds of sites visited, these results are not surprising. University Internet cafés are filtered and monitored, so there may be some modification of use as a result. It would be interesting to compare the results for the same participants examining their use of digital information in public Internet cafés.
Table 4: Search engine preferences Number Percent of total Global 286 96.9 Yahoo 161 54.6 MSN Search 43 14.6 InfoSpace 3 1 Ask Jeeves 2 0.7 About 2 0.7 CNET 2 0.7 OnWashington 1 0.3 Local Mynet 196 66.4 Arabul 66 22.4 Ekolay 44 14.9 Netbul 38 12.9 Nerede.com 35 11.9 Arama.com 34 11.5 Superonline 32 10.8 Altanvista.com 18 6.1 Arama.cc 4 1.4 Bigglook 3 1 Other 7 2.4
Google and Yahoo were the most popular global search engines used by the participants. For local searches, students seemed to prefer Mynet above all others. Adomi, et al. (2004) found that Yahoo and Google were the most used at Delta State University in Nigeria.
Table 5: Reasons for using the Internet Number Percent of total Doing assignments 249 84.4 Browsing academic information 234 79.3 Downloading programs 229 77.6 Following news 221 74.9 Printing 217 73.6 Communicating 198 67.1 Surfing 172 58.3 Chatting 141 47.8 CD writing 115 39 Participating in online classes 80 27.1 Playing games 76 25.8 Online banking 45 15.3 Watching movies 44 14.9 Shopping 36 12.2
Turkish students seem to largely use the Internet in universities for academic pursuits, such as completing assignments for classes, downloading and saving files, and printing as well as communicating with colelagues and friends. Adomi, et al. (2004) found in Nigeria that communicating (sending and receiving email) dominated, followed by browsing for academic information.
Table 6: Problems arising from the use of the Internet in university Internet cafés Number Percent of total Sound system is insufficient 183 62 Service fees are expensive 131 44.4 Lack of different technologies 123 41.7 Proxy server is very rigid 111 37.6 Number of computers are insufficient 102 34.6 Time is restricted 98 33.2 I cant find software which I need 95 32.2 Computers are frequently damaged 85 28.8 Staff not adequate for technical support 84 28.5 Physical environment is not adequate 83 28.1 Provided services not adequate 70 23.7 Settlement is not adequate 43 14.6
Two problems emerged from the study. The physical environment of the cafés was certainly a concern (Sound system is insufficient). Not surprisingly, fees were also an issue. Any costs to improve the physical setting of the cafés will only lead to higher costs, so these problems are not easily solved.
The number of young people studying in Turkish universities is over 1.4 million (MEB, 2005); every year around 400,000 students ente the university system. The Internet is an important educational tool for these students and will only grow in use in the future. Hence university administrators should llok at ways of improving the Internet experience for students. Our study leads us to several recommendations:
- Students should take at lease one computer course on Internet applications by their junior year. This formal training would make their Internet experiences safer and more productive.
- Internet cafés should have all of the necessary hardware and software for students to fulfill the requirements of thier university education, with properly trained support staff to assist students.
- Internet cafés should evolve into learning centers as well as reference points for students. Seminars and workshops xan accelerate this process of integration of cafés into the curriculum.
- Fees for for basic Internet access should be minimal.
Universities, as centers for knowledge and information, have an excellent opportunity to transform Internet cafés into active and vital educational operations. In the global information economy, it will ultimately best serve Turkeys future and the personal goals of students.
About the authors
Tayfun Tanyeri is a doctoral student in Computer and Instructional Technologies Department of Education Faculty in Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. His research interest is in web based learning of higher education students.
Cem Çuhadar is a doctoral student in Computer and Instructional Technologies Department of Education Faculty in Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. His research interest is in mobile technologies in education.
Mübin Kiyici is a doctoral student in Computer and Instructional Technologies Department of Education Faculty in Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. His research interest is in technological literacy.
Address correspondence to: Mübin Kiyici, BOTE Egitim Fakultesi, Anadolu Universitesi 26470 Eskisehir, Turkey.
Email: mkiyici [at] anadolu [dot] edu [dot] tr
Ahmet Naci Çoklar is a doctoral student in Computer and Instructional Technologies Department of Education Faculty in Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. His research interest is technology standarts in education.
Special thanks to Prof. Dr. H. Ferhan Odabasi, for all the support and inspiration she gave us.
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Paper received 27 February 2006; accepted 17 April 2006.
This work is dedicated under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication.
University Internet cafés: One more cup of information for the road by Tayfun Tanyeri, Cem Çuhadar, Mübin Kiyici, and Ahmet Naci Çoklar
First Monday, Volume 11, Number 5 — 1 May 2006