Frequently asked questions

Q1) Is this course on-campus? Is it online? How does the online component work?

Spring Online (weekly lecture videos, course communication via Slack and Piazza)

Fall This course is run both on-campus and online.

Students in the Cambridge area can attend the weekly, live lecture held on Harvard's campus. Students taking the course remotely will have access lecture videos.

Refer to HES's page on course formats for more details....

Q2) How much time will I need to devote to this course?

This question is difficult to answer as it depends on many factors: how much previous experience you have, how quickly you pick up on technical topics, and most importantly, how much you want to push yourself on your projects.

If you'd still like a rough number, though, I'll defer to the classic college estimate: students should spend roughly 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour in class.

Q3) I have to miss [x] lecture(s). Will this be a problem?

There are no point deductions in this course for missing lectures. Each student is responsible for their own attendance.

For more details regarding missed quizzes or late projects due to absences see the section on grading.

Please also read the Attendance section under Student Responsibilities for more details.

Q4) You recommend using [x] software— is it okay if I use [y] software?

Please see the section Choosing to use other tools, languages or services under Software.

Q5) Can I get feedback on an assignment from my TA/the instructor before I submit?

If office hours are slow, you may request your TA take a look at your assignment pre-submission. Time permitting, your TA may interact with your site and provide first impressions, but they'll do so from the perspective of a user, not a grader.

Examples of the kind of feedback a TA may give pre-submission


Examples of the kind of feedback TAs should not be expected to give pre-submission


In short, it's not the teaching team's responsibility to make sure all requirements are adhered to, and you can't challenge point deductions after receiving a grade by saying “But the TA looked at my application and didn't mention that!”

Also, please be respectful of the TAs time and understand that they may deny a request for review if it comes at the last minute pre-deadline or if they're actively helping other students with specific questions. TAs have also been instructed to not do a “pre-submission review” more than once for any given student as it's unfair to other students in the course.

All of this applies to broad requests. We're less picky if you have specific questions your assignment, e.g. “I'm not sure if it makes more sense to use a slider or dropdown for xyz feature; what do you think?”


This question was first addressed in Piazza (ref) before the A2 submission; I've moved it here to the FAQ as of Thu Apr 13. -sb