Reading and Typing Japanese Font on Your Computer
It is mandatory in the Nihongo Web courses that you enable your computer to "unencode" Japanese font on websites. Being able to type in Japanese is not required because you can always handwrite in Japanese and attach a scanned document for the Discussion Forum assignments, but if possible please try and figure out how to enable your computer to type in Japanese as well. You will certainly need that functionality if you decide to further your study of Japanese beyond the first level.
The method of setting up your computer to recognize Japanese font is different depending on your operating system. First let's see if your computer is already enabled to read Japanese font. Visit http://news.tbs.co.jp/ which is a Japanese news website. If you don't know what Japanese looks like, it should look something like this:
If it looks like secret alien code, you will need to select Japanese font encoding, or rarely, you may need to download something. Wikipedia has more explanations and samples, and websites to help you enable both reading and typing in Japanese for your particular computer operating system. Many systems offer an "East Asian Language Pack" that enables Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. You should not have to purchase font sets (although they do exist and some are pretty cool-looking). If you run across the term Global IME (input method editor), that is what you need for your PC to type in Japanese (or other language besides English).
Here are some more sites to help you: