The only thing that matters is that students aim towards the goals described at explain how to make money with the lesson.
Any "homework for which the student cannot use existing resources available online" is a waste of time.
Projects don't need of course to reach the level of novel result. But they must at least aim at moving towards that.
The ideal way to go about it is to reach some intermediate milestone, and then document it. You don't have to do the hole thing! Just go until your patience with it runs out. But while you are doing it, go as deep and wide as you possibly can, without mercy.
The thing about projects is that they are illiquid: it is not easy to immediately compare them.
And that is the whole point.
The outcome of that however is that you have to learn how to explain what you've achieved to others and why it is awesome.
Just like in the real world.
You have to create portfolio, and do some public relations.

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