There you are, minding your own business when it happens. You are assigned an online audio or video for class. If it an MP3 audio file more than likely your Windows Media Player (WMP) will allow you to listen in comfort. You do have to remember to turn the speakers on. ;-)
But if it is a video and you click the link and nothing happens then more often than not you are probably trying to view a video without the proper video player installed. For the record, Windows Media player can't play any form of QuickTime movies or Real Player file formats.
Here are your options.
Visit the QuickTime site to download the free Windows version of the QuickTime Player (QT). You have a choice. You can download the stand alone player or the player with iTunes. If you are on dial-up you don't want to tie up your phone line any longer than you need so I would suggest that you download the stand alone player.
After the QT player is installed you will be able to view video content in the .MOV, MP4 and M4V formats, as well as other audio and video formats.
There are other media players but for the most part if you have Windows Media Player and QuickTime you have just about all that you would need.
Except when you need Real Player. This use to be the predominate video and audio format. There are many websites that still use this format and it is not compatible with QT or WMP. There is a free basic player that will allow you to view files in the Real Player format.
Caveats? A few. Real Player would very much like you to purchase the SuperPass. You don't have to nor do you have to purchase any of the Rhapsody music tracks. You are under no obligation to do so.
In the past, Real Player would send statistical information back to the company. They have learned to ask before sending data. Make sure you read the messages as you install the software. Most Windows users do have both the WMP and QT.
If you have the hard drive space I would suggest the Real Player download as well.