Introduction

ViSCoS project started in year 2000 by University of Joensuu, which has then become part of University of Eastern Finland. Originally, the aim of the project was to offer university level computer science studies to high school students in the surrounding province of Joensuu, namely North Karelia. Afterwards the project expanded considerably. In Fall 2004, ViSCoS studies have been run in collaboration with the Continuing Education Centre (Open University) at the University of Joensuu. Starting from year 2006 the studies become available also in English. In year 2008, the ViSCoS studies were expended to include the intermediate studies in Computer Science.

ViSCoS studies are about to end in 2015. Intermediate studies were cancelled earlier in 2011.

One of the main objectives of ViSCoS was to learn programming, software development and IT-professional skills. Students also learnt the principles of Computer Science as well as improved their level of written English. ViSCoS courses were studied online, which means that the studying was based on independent studying over the Internet. Students needed to take responsibility of their studies by themselves, with the help of teachers. Thus, studying in ViSCoS was flexible, but challenging. Completing the ViSCoS basic studies was possible within one year, while the immediate studies could be studied in two years.

In most of the ViSCoS courses students used Moodle web-based learning management system to access the course content and connect to the instructors and peers. Instructors of the courses were competent IT professionals who worked as teachers and researchers at the university. Students were also able to contact the instructors via discussion forums, e-mail, telephone or instant messengers. Course instructors gave feedback to the course exercises during the courses, thus providing valuable support to the students.