Web-based studies | Open University

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Most of the courses at the University of Helsinki’s Open University are organised as web-based studies, so you can participate from anywhere. Online studying is flexible and independent.

What are web-based studies like?

Studying online is flexible and independent. You can study wherever you are and according to your own schedule. However, this flexibility and independence also means that web-based studies require planning and time management skills.  

Web-based courses vary on the strictness of their schedule and timetable. Some of them are completely open for the student to complete at their convenience. However, most online courses use a pre-determined schedule. For example:  

  • Live online lectures take place at certain times. 
  • Recordings of online lectures are also often released, so that students can watch and listen when it is convenient for them.  
  • Written assignments typically have specific deadlines. 
  • Online discussions usually take place within a set timeframe (e.g., a day or a week). 
  • Online examinations must be completed at a specific time on a specific date.  

The practicalities and schedules for your course are posted on the course page and in the online learning environment. 


Online learning environment (Moodle or MOOC)

Nearly all Open University courses use an online learning environment. Depending on how the course is structured, the online learning environment can be used to view online lectures, complete and submit assignments, participate in online discussions, complete online examinations and inform students about matters relating to their studies.  

In most cases, the environment is called Moodle. The online learning environments for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) vary by course.  

Further information and instructions:  

Online lectures

Online courses usually involve online lectures and/or recordings of online lectures. The schedules and links to the online lectures or recordings are in the online learning environment of your course.   

Online lectures are held on Zoom.

Online discussions

Interaction between the teacher and other students of the online course is an important and rewarding aspect of web-based studies. It can be fun to meet other students who come from many different backgrounds and life situations.  

Online discussions may also be a required component of your course. In such cases, the online discussions will be asynchronous. Students can participate in the discussion whenever convenient within the set timeframe. 

Such online discussions usually take place in writing on the course discussion forum. 


In addition to individual work and assignments, an online course may feature shared assignments such as groupwork. The group can agree their work methods among themselves. The work can use sound and video connections (e.g., Teams).  

Written assignments for web-based courses

Online courses typically include one or more written assignment, such as an essay, a summary or a learning journal. In the assignments, students use and analyse the lectures, reading and any other course material.  

On some online courses, participants evaluate each other’s assignments, providing peer feedback and learning from each other’s work.

Read more: Written assignments


Online examinations

An online examination is a digital examination conducted in an online learning environment at a specific time or within a specific timeframe. Students use their own computers in an online examination.  

Read more about online examinations: Examinations


Technical requirements for web-based studies

  • Web-based studies require a good internet connection. The best way of using online learning environments and participating in online lectures is through a high-speed landline connection. 
  • The recommended browser is Chrome.  
  • As a rule, you will not need to install specific software to participate in web-based studies. If the course requires a particular piece of software (e.g., SPSS), this will be indicated on the course page.  
  • Online lectures are held on Zoom. Zoom can be used via a browser or the Zoom app. See also: Online lectures (above). 
  • Web-based studies involve a great deal of writing, so you will need a word processor in your studies. 
  • Firewalls and other security software installed on computers at workplaces and other organisations may prevent online courses or videos from loading. 
  • The Open University is not responsible for any problems resulting from the students’ internet connections or computers, for example during an online lecture or examination.   


Studying from abroad

The Open University’s web-based studies are also available from outside Finland. However, please note the following:  

  • The enrolment demands Finnish personal identity code, online banking ID, University of Helsinki user account or HAKA-account. More information: Enrolment and fees
  • Payments from a bank outside Finland may take a longer time to arrive. Please register for your studies in good time so that you will have time to activate your University of Helsinki user account before the course begins.
  • Activating a University of Helsinki user account requires in-person or strong digital identification, for example with online banking codes from a Finnish bank. Read more: University of Helsinki user account
  • NOTE! If you are participating in a massive open online course (MOOC), you can begin your studies immediately, without paying a course fee or activating a user account. Read more: MOOC courses
  • Acquiring printed course material outside Finland may take a long time. Start looking for textbooks in advance, contact friends in Finland for help if necessary or check online bookstores. Information on course literature is available on the relevant course page. Read more: Libraries and information seeking].
  • Please note that the times for live online lectures are indicated in Finnish time.