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How to Succeed in Online Courses | Hardware Requirements | Suggested Software | Plug-Ins | Computer Skills Tutorials | Blackboard Tutorial | Student's Guide to Copyright Issues
Online Learning @ College of the Canyons

A Note About Plug-Ins

Free software (shareware, or freeware) is available all over the Internet. Below the suggested plug-ins on this page are some instructions on how to install and manage your plug-ins once you have found them.

Useful Media Plug-ins
Listed here are common plug-ins that may be required for your online course. Many of these may be installed on your computer already. For the most up-to-date versions of these programs, please click on the links below.


Plays online audio (ra) and video (rm). NOTE: Look carefully for the FREE RealOne Player. There are several purchase offers on this site.

Macromedia Shockwave, Flash and Authorware
Provides automation and entertainment by using your browser.

Quick Time by Apple
Plays any media file, including MPEG-4, compatible with QuickTime.

Adobe Acrobat Reader
Use to view pdf files. Reader is free. There are offers to purchase Adobe Acrobat reader/writer on this site.

Microsoft Windows Media Player
Supports and plays most media types, including MP3, AVI and WAV files.

Compresses and decompresses large files for Windows.

Remember: You need to restart your computer after downloading and installing plug-ins.

Useful Browser Plug-ins
These are the two most common browsers used in online courses today.

Netscape Navigator

Microsoft Internet Explorer for WINDOWS

Microsoft Internet Explorer for MACs

Directions for downloading, installing and managing plug-ins

Step-by-step downloading guide *

Step 1: Preparing a File for Download
For purposes of this exercise, you've found a file you would like to download at, which is a popular place to download music on the Web.  You'd like to download the free MP3 Player ( which will enable you to play music on your computer from the Internet. This program is freeware, but if you download shareware, and if you intend to use the complete program, you will eventually have to pay for it.

When you have determined you have enough disk space to download the file, the first thing you need to do is select your operating system, and then follow the rest of the directions on the site. Once you click on the file, you will be prompted to save it to your hard disk. There are two things you absolutely must remember: where you saved the file and what the file name was (jot this information down if you have to).  After you've chosen a place to save the file, your computer will begin downloading it, and you usually will be given an estimate of how much time it will take.
      TIP: One of the simplest ways to find files that you've downloaded is to save them to the desktop. That way when you close your connection to the Internet, and your Web browser window, you will see the files right on your screen.

Step 2: Don't forget to exit out of your browser!
Many people don't realize that after they have downloaded the file, they must run through an installation process to make the software work.  Once you have downloaded the file, close your browser and find the file you have just downloaded. It will be conveniently saved on your desktop.

Step 3: Running through the installation process
Double-clicking on the name of the file you have just downloaded will get the installation process going. You usually will be prompted to answer a few questions, such as "What is your email address?" and "What type of browser are you using?" When the installation is completed, you can begin enjoying your new software.

* From the California Virtual Campus Online Survival Guide by S. E. Frederickson. (c) Rio Hondo Community College, 2002.

For hardware and software requirements, please see links at the top of this page.