Studying in an online learning environment

Course learning environments

The term “online learning environment” refers to a service accessible with a web browser, providing students and staff with a common workspace. It may contain, for instance, lecture materials, more detailed course schedules, exercises and tests and provide a possibility to discuss and to hand in various course-related assignments.

Your online learning will be most successful if you have sorted out at least the following issues concerning your course:

  • What will the environment be used for during the course in question (e.g. distributing lecture notes, providing course information, handing in assignments etc.)?
  • Is there a schedule for using the online learning environment?
  • If there is a schedule, what is it like?
  • What are you expected to do when using the learning environment?

A course is not always evaluated with an examination. Instead, its completion might require participation in discussions carried out in the learning environment or peer assessment of other students’ work according to the assessment criteria provided by the teacher. Most forms of working require cooperation. The teacher has the right to define what you are expected to do and to evaluate your performance accordingly. When participating in online discussions, adhere to the Internet etiquette.

Course page

Sometimes all information and materials related to completing the course is distributed solely through the course page and there is no dedicated Moodle area or a similar forum. Once you have registered for a course in Sisu, the easiest way to find links to all your course pages is from the My Studies page.

In addition to basic information, the course page may also contain additional materials, such as downloadable files and videos, that are shared to registered students only.

Moodle –

The University of Helsinki mainly uses the Moodle learning environment, but in some courses, alternative environments, such as a wiki space or a course blog, may be used.

Moodle offers many different opportunities for online learning. Moodle enables you to take part in online discussions, answer polls, hand in assignments online and take examinations, among other things. A Moodle course can be divided into several time periods, organised under different themes or based on social interaction. Below is a partial screenshot of the Moodle user interface:

Log in to Moodle at with your university (AD) username and password.

Below you can find an introduction to Moodle’s basic functions from a student’s point of view. More information about these and many other Moodle features can be found in the Moodle Manual for Students created by the Educational Technology Services of the University of Helsinki.

Registering for a course in Moodle

Once you have logged in to Moodle with your username, you can register to course areas. The courses you have registered for will be listed on the Overview of my courses page. Course registrations are carried out by the teacher on some courses, while other courses use self-registration.

If self-registration is possible, you can access the Moodle course area immediately without the teacher having to do anything. In the best case scenario, you are registered automatically for the course’s Moodle area by registering for it in Sisu. However, often you are required to know the course key that Moodle will request you to provide the first time you try to access the course area. You can find the course key (i.e. password) on the course page next to the Moodle button or get it from the coordinating teacher.

Please note that often registration via Moodle only does not count as a course registration. Therefore, always check the course catalogues for more detailed registration instructions before registering for courses!

In Moodle, courses are organised into categories according to the faculty. You can browse the courses by clicking Front page with categories on the left on Moodle’s front page. After proceeding to the category of your choice, you can see the descriptions of the various courses. You can also search for a course by entering its name in the search field and by clicking the Go button. The image below shows a faculty’s course descriptions and the search function.

Profile information

You can access your profile in Moodle by clicking your name at the top right corner of the browser window after you have logged in. From the menu that opens, you can access and change your information, read incoming messages and view assessments. The image below shows the Moodle profile for the student Raymond.


You can edit the information shown about you by clicking the Edit profile link (shown in the image above). On the editing page, you can, for instance, change the language used in Moodle, add a profile picture or edit your contact information. Related instructions can be found in the Moodle Manual for Students.

Course communications may take place in many other tools in addition to Moodle, so it may be very useful to update your profile information!


MOOC is an abbreviation of the words “Massive Open Online Course”. It refers to a free-of-charge online course that is open to all. MOOC course materials can be text materials, online lectures, remote workshops, forum discussions, various assignments or nearly any online learning materials. MOOC courses do not have a typical duration, structure, platform or number of participants. Instead, the course organiser decides what the course will be like. The MOOC environment of the University of Helsinki can be found at