The Finnish Virtual University of History. Overview and organisational practices

Finnish Virtual University of History (FVUH) is a wide project organisation of Finnish history departments and other organisations giving higher education in the field of history. Members are from 11 departments from 8 different universities.

The main objectives

The FVUH has been in operation since the year 2000. Its main objective is to produce web-based history courses and offer them at university level to its member institutions. It thereby makes diversified history teaching widely available to all history departments and gives them an opportunity to set in train an international exchange of courses with history departments abroad. It gives students flexibility, enabling them to choose where and when to study, and to decide the tempo of their studies. It helps tutors and other staff members to use e-learning technology, and teaches students how to use and exploit the Internet and other ICT-technologies and e-learning methods.

How it works: Course production, courses in the curriculum and student recruitment

The FVUH is controlled by its working committee which is the decision-making body. It has representatives from all 11 participating institutions. The committee vets new web-courses and gives approval for their introduction into the curriculum of the project. The FVUH has one half-time co-ordinator.

The initiative for new courses has mainly come from tutors and researchers and departments then decide which courses they approve for their curriculum. Course production is usually arranged in teams with people specializing in different aspects of the subject. These teams vary from a minimum of two people to as many as eight. A course team can divide the workload by thematic tasks. People specializing for example in the history of the cold war gave their expert knowledge for use by other departments by means of virtual courses.

Course-production teams could be organized virtually so that people interested in medieval history from different departments built courses together. The virtual environment gives great flexibility, enabling people from different departments to create courses together. Although this option has not been as widely used as it could be, course-production teams have usually been organized in departments between people in close contact who already know each other.

Departments from different universities select courses which they think will suit their curriculum. They announce the courses to their students through the normal channels, and students then enroll on the courses using the centralized database. The departments choose the students who will attend the courses. All this information, from the announcement of the courses to the enrolment procedure, is maintained in one database connected to the public Internet. It is also connected to the project intranet where access is only available to the representatives of the different departments.

The Finnish partners are:

University of Helsinki
  • Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
  • Department of Political and Economic Studies
University of Eastern Finland
  • Department of Geographical and Historical Studies
University of Jyväskylä
  • Department of History and Ethnology
University of Lapland
  • Cultural history
University of Oulu
  • Department of History
University of Tampere
  • The School of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Open university
University of Turku
  • School of History, Culture and Arts Studies
  • Department of Political Science and Contemporary History
  • Open university
Åbo Akademi University
  • History Department

For more information about the FVUH or if you are interested in co-operative projects or webbcourses please contact: Project manager Tapio Onnela, University of Turku. e-mail: