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Course Formats & Required Technology

At Harvard Extension School, we offer flexible course options to help you balance school, career, and other life commitments.

Three Participation Options

  • Four people around a globe.

    Online Synchronous. Most of our courses are held live online (eastern time).

  • Person on a video call.

    Online Asynchronous. 35% do not require live attendance.

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    On Campus. 20% provide the option to attend on campus.

We review the content and pedagogy of every course before assigning the participation option, choosing the one that optimizes the highest quality learning outcome. You can search courses by participation option.

Course Formats

Online Synchronous Courses

Online synchronous participation happens over Zoom so you can see, hear and speak with your classmates.

When you use the “Online Synchronous” search filter, you’ll find:

  • Live attendance web conference courses, held entirely live over Zoom.
  • Online synchronous courses with a required on-campus weekend, which have class meetings in Zoom plus a required weekend on campus.
  • Flexible attendance courses that offer the option to participate synchronously online. These courses may give you the option to watch class recordings and participate asynchronously online. You may also be able to attend on campus. Please see the meeting information for details about which options are available in your course.

Online Asynchronous Courses

In online asynchronous courses, you are not required to attend class at a particular time. Instead you can complete the course work on your own schedule each week.

When you use the “Online Asynchronous” search filter, you’ll find:

  • Online courses that give you materials to work through each week with discussion boards or live section meetings for support.
  • Streamed Harvard University courses, live Harvard College courses that are recorded so you can participate on demand.
  • Flexible attendance courses that offer the option to participate asynchronously. These courses may also give you the option to participate synchronously online or on campus. Please see the meeting information for details about which options are available in your course.

On-Campus Courses

When you use the “On Campus” search filter, you’ll find:

  • Courses that meet live on campus, including:
    • Active learning weekend courses
    •  1- or 3-week January session courses
    • Some premedical courses
  • Online synchronous courses with a required on-campus weekend, which have class meetings over Zoom plus a required weekend on campus.
  • Flexible attendance courses that offer the option to participate on campus. These courses may also give you the option to participate online synchronously or asynchronously. Please see the meeting information for details about which options are available in your course.

In Harvard Summer School, we also offer a range of courses on campus, across different subject areas and different parts of term. When searching on the summer term, you’ll find these options.

Labs and Section Meetings

For any course type, there may be separate labs or section meetings. Information about the days and times of labs or sections will be listed on the course syllabus or announced by the teaching staff once class begins.

Technology Requirements

Canvas Course Websites

Every course has a website, which you can access on the Canvas platform. This will be your home base for the course and where you will find:

  • Zoom meeting links (learn more about Zoom requirements)
  • The syllabus
  • Class materials
  • Assignments 

FAQs

How do I access Canvas?

Canvas can be accessed directly at Canvas.Harvard.edu or by logging into MyDCE and clicking the link to Canvas from your Dashboard. To log in to your course website, you must use your HarvardKey. If you do not have a HarvardKey, you may claim one at Key.Harvard.edu. Please note, your HarvardKey login credential is different from your DCEKey. For more information, please see Student ID and Login Information.

I’m logged into MyDCE but am unable to access Canvas. What may be causing this error?

To log in to your course website, you must use your HarvardKey. If you do not have a HarvardKey, you may claim one at Key.Harvard.edu. Please note, your HarvardKey login credential is different from your DCEKey. For more information, please see Student ID and Login Information.

I registered for a course but do not see it displayed in Canvas. When should I expect it to appear?

After you register, it may take 24 to 48 hours for you to gain access to your course website. All course websites/syllabi will be published 1 week before classes start. If your course website is still missing/unpublished closer to the first day of classes, then please reach out to our Enrollment Services team for advice regarding next steps for access. You can reach them at (617) 495-4024 or via email at Inquiry@Extension.Harvard.edu.

When will the syllabus be posted in Canvas?

Each instructor is responsible for submitting their syllabus for review in a timely manner so that it can be posted in our Course Search and Registration system and in Canvas. Many syllabi are available to view underneath the course description within the Course Search and Registration system. All course websites/syllabi will be published 1 week before classes start. If your course website/syllabus is still missing/unpublished closer to the start of classes, then please reach out to our Enrollment Services team for advice regarding next steps for access. You can reach them at (617) 495-4024 or via email at Inquiry@Extension.Harvard.edu.

I recently changed courses but do not see the new courses displayed in Canvas. When should I expect it to appear?

After you change courses, it may take 24 to 48 hours for you to gain access to your course website. Please note that some course websites are not published by the instructor(s) until closer to the start of the term. If your course website is still missing/unpublished closer to the start of classes, then please reach out to our Enrollment Services team for advice regarding next steps for access. You can reach them at (617) 495-4024 or via email at Inquiry@Extension.Harvard.edu.

If your course change has occurred on the day that your new course meets on, please contact our Academic Technology team to receive a one-time Zoom link to access your course with. You can reach them at (617) 998-8571 or via email at AcademicTechnology@DCE.Harvard.edu.

Logging In: Using Your HarvardKey

To access your course website, you will log in with your HarvardKey, your University login and password. When you first register for a course, you receive a Harvard University ID number and a prompt to claim your HarvardKey.

The two-step authentication process, which adds additional security to your account, will require periodic use of either a smartphone, app, or landline-based verification. Learn more about the Harvard University ID number and HarvardKey.

Computer Specifications & Internet Connection

Windows and Macintosh

  • 2GHz or faster processor, 8GB or more of RAM
  • Please maintain an up-to-date operating system and web browser.

We do not support:

  • Taking courses on mobile devices
  • Linux/Chromebook
  • Beta versions of any software
  • Operating systems discontinued by manufacturers

Connection Speed

You need a minimum internet speed of 5 Mbps. The recommended speed is 10 Mbps. Check your Internet speed.

Zoom

If your course uses Zoom and you have not used it before, the program will automatically download when you join your first meeting.

  • You are required to use a webcam during class.
  • Be prepared to use a microphone during class. We recommend a Logitech H390 headset, but any headset should be adequate.
  • You are expected to join from a suitable, quiet location with a computer that permits full participation in the class activities. Please review the full Participation and Attendance requirements. If you do not adhere to all participation requirements you may be removed from your class meeting.

Getting Help

Training and Documentation

Online Support 

Technical Questions and Computer/Software Troubleshooting

Enrollment Services (Registration, Access, and General Questions)

Online Technology Status Page