Diverse coloring of clouds

As society becomes more diverse, it is important for institutions of higher education to likewise value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their educational offerings. Unfortunately, this ideal is often difficult to fully embrace, particularly when traditional modes of instruction do not adapt to the needs of a more diverse student population. Thankfully, cloud desktops are offering innovative ways to transform DEI in higher education. By utilizing such technology, institutions can better understand DEI, improve access and equity, and foster a more inclusive learning environment.

Understanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education

Defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Before discussing the role of cloud desktops in improving DEI in higher education, it is first important to define diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity in the context of higher education refers to the varied backgrounds, experiences, and demographics of students and faculty. This can include differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and more. Equity, meanwhile, seeks to address historical and structural barriers in educational access, as well as the distribution of institutional resources. This includes addressing issues such as affordability, financial aid, and admissions policies. Inclusion, on the other hand, concerns the creation of a welcoming and supportive environment for all students, while addressing any microaggressions or displays of bias. This includes ensuring that all students feel valued and respected, regardless of their background or identity.

The Importance of DEI in Higher Education

The importance of DEI in higher education cannot be overstated. Students’ identities, lived experiences, and cultural backgrounds shape the way they learn and engage with their academic work, while also shaping the way they relate to others in the academic community. Moreover, diverse perspectives also have value in the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of research in various disciplines. When students are exposed to a variety of perspectives, they are better equipped to understand complex issues and develop innovative solutions. Additionally, a diverse student body can help to break down stereotypes and promote greater understanding and empathy among different groups.

Challenges Faced by Higher Education Institutions

Despite the stated importance of DEI in higher education institutions, significant challenges have impeded their ability to achieve this goal. For example, traditional modes of instruction may not be accessible to all students, particularly those with disabilities or those from marginalized communities. This can include issues such as lack of access to assistive technology, as well as a lack of accommodations for students with disabilities. Additionally, the lack of diversity among faculty can create a homogenous learning environment that fails to account for differing perspectives, experiences, and voices. This can result in a limited understanding of complex issues and a lack of innovation in research and scholarship. Lastly, institutional culture may perpetuate biases and microaggressions, thereby undermining efforts to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. This can include issues such as discriminatory policies, lack of support for marginalized students, and a failure to address issues of bias and discrimination when they arise.

The Role of Cloud Desktops in Improving DEI in Higher Education

Cloud desktops have the potential to play an important role in improving DEI in higher education. By providing students with access to virtual desktops, institutions can ensure that all students have equal access to technology and resources. This can be particularly important for students who may not have access to a personal computer or who may not be able to afford expensive software. Additionally, cloud desktops can help to address issues of accessibility by providing students with assistive technology and other accommodations. This can include features such as text-to-speech software, screen readers, and more. By ensuring that all students have equal access to technology and resources, institutions can help to level the playing field and promote greater equity in education.

Moreover, cloud desktops can also help to promote greater diversity and inclusion in higher education. By providing students with access to a variety of software and tools, institutions can help to foster innovation and creativity. This can include tools for digital art and design, coding and programming, and more. Additionally, cloud desktops can help to break down barriers between students from different backgrounds and cultures by providing a common platform for collaboration and communication. By facilitating greater interaction and exchange of ideas, cloud desktops can help to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.

The Role of Cloud Desktops in Higher Education

What are Cloud Desktops?

Cloud desktops, also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), are an innovative solution to some of the challenges faced by higher education institutions in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Cloud desktops operate by delivering desktop environments over the internet, meaning that students and faculty can access their desktops and applications from anywhere, using any device.

Cloud desktops are hosted on servers located in data centers, which are managed by third-party providers. (Check out our post on how to choose the right desktop virtualization provider) These providers ensure that the desktop environments are secure, reliable, and accessible to users at all times. The desktop environments are customizable, allowing users to install the software and applications they need for their coursework or research.

Benefits of Cloud Desktops for Students and Faculty

There are numerous benefits of cloud desktops for students and faculty alike. For students, cloud desktops offer flexibility and access that traditional classroom environments often do not. They can access course materials and software from anywhere, which is particularly important for students who may have responsibilities outside of school. This flexibility allows students to balance their academic and personal lives more effectively.

Additionally, cloud desktops enable students to collaborate with one another and access materials in real-time. This can be particularly valuable for group projects or research assignments. Students can work together on a project from different locations, and access the same files and applications simultaneously.

For faculty, cloud desktops offer easier access to educational resources and the ability to facilitate more interactive, engaging learning experiences for their students. Faculty can use cloud desktops to create virtual computer labs, simulations, and other interactive learning experiences that would be difficult to replicate in a traditional classroom setting. This can help to deepen students’ understanding of complex concepts and prepare them for real-world challenges.

Cloud Desktops and Remote Learning

Cloud desktops are particularly valuable in the era of remote learning. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, remote learning requires flexibility and adaptability from both students and faculty. Cloud desktops make it easier for both groups to stay connected and engaged with coursework, regardless of their physical location.

Cloud desktops enable students and faculty to access the same desktop environment and applications, regardless of the device they are using. This means that students can access their coursework on a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone. Faculty can also use cloud desktops to conduct virtual office hours, provide feedback on assignments, and communicate with students in real-time.

In conclusion, cloud desktops are a valuable tool for promoting DEI and enhancing the learning experience for students and faculty in higher education. By providing flexible, secure, and accessible desktop environments, cloud desktops enable students and faculty to work together from anywhere, at any time.

Virtual Computer Labs: 2-year Impact Assessment Conducted by IIT

The Office of Technology Services at The Illinois Institute of Technology has completed a two-year assessment of its transformation from physical infrastructure to Apporto’s virtual computer lab.​ Read their findings here.
Illinois Institute of Technology

Enhancing Accessibility with Cloud Desktops

Overcoming Technological Barriers

Cloud desktops have become an increasingly popular tool in higher education for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of the main benefits of cloud desktops in this context is their ability to overcome technological barriers that may prevent some students from accessing educational materials. For example, students who do not have access to certain software on their personal devices can now access such software remotely using cloud desktops. This means that students who may not have the financial means to purchase expensive software can still engage with course materials on an equal footing with their peers. Similarly, students who may have disabilities that prevent them from using traditional desktop environments can now access academic resources using assistive technologies included in the cloud desktop environment. This includes screen readers, speech recognition software, and other tools that can help students with disabilities engage with course materials in a way that works for them.  

Supporting Students with Disabilities

Cloud desktops also benefit students with disabilities by providing greater degrees of accessibility and flexibility. For example, students with visual impairments can enlarge text and adjust the color contrast of their screen to make it easier to read. Meanwhile, students with mobility impairments can use assistive technologies to control their computer cursor, making it easier for them to navigate course materials and complete assignments. Through these technologies, students with disabilities are better able to participate in course activities and fully engage with their academic work. This can help to level the playing field and ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed in their studies.  

Promoting Digital Literacy and Inclusivity

Cloud desktops also promote digital literacy and inclusivity more broadly. By providing access to course materials and software remotely, cloud desktops encourage students to take greater control over their own learning. This means that students are more self-sufficient and self-directed in their learning, which can promote greater engagement and retention of course materials. Furthermore, by providing equal access to educational resources, cloud desktops help to build a more inclusive learning environment. This can help to promote a sense of community and belonging among students from diverse backgrounds, which can have a positive impact on their overall academic experience. In conclusion, cloud desktops have the potential to be a powerful tool for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. By overcoming technological barriers, supporting students with disabilities, and promoting digital literacy and inclusivity, cloud desktops can help to create a more accessible and equitable learning environment for all students.  

Fostering Collaboration and Engagement through Cloud Desktops

Virtual Learning Environments

Finally, cloud desktops foster collaboration and engagement among students and faculty. By enabling students to collaborate in real-time, cloud desktops facilitate active learning and deeper engagement with coursework. Additionally, cloud desktops can be used to create virtual learning environments that simulate traditional classroom settings, complete with real-time discussions and group activities.  

Encouraging Cross-Cultural Collaboration

In addition to promoting collaboration among students and faculty, cloud desktops also facilitate cross-cultural collaboration. As institutions of higher education continue to diversify, it is increasingly important for students to engage with peers from different cultural backgrounds. Cloud desktops can help make such interactions possible by providing students with the means to collaborate across geographical and cultural divides.  

Supporting Faculty in DEI Initiatives

Lastly, cloud desktops support faculty in their efforts to promote DEI in higher education. By providing greater accessibility and inclusivity, cloud desktops help faculty create more diverse and welcoming learning environments that account for the varying needs and experiences of all students.  


Cloud desktops have proven instrumental in transforming diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. By providing students and faculty with access to educational resources and software remotely, cloud desktops offer greater flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity. These benefits, in turn, are instrumental in promoting collaboration, engagement, self-reliance, and empowerment among students, and supporting faculty in their efforts to create inclusive learning environments. As higher education institutions continue to adapt to a rapidly diversifying student population, cloud desktops will remain an important tool in promoting DEI and transforming the educational experience for all learners.