virtual desk top

The Journey to a Virtual Desktop Learning Environment at Colorado Christian University

A degree program at any university is made up of many layers that a student will never see; this is also true at Colorado Christian University. The components of a course include the content, the instructor, the location, the environment, and the students. In this blog post we'll examine how traditional technical education is done, as well as how CCU is changing the paradigm for technical courses using a virtual desktop environment.

In the traditional model, a course is taught by a professor/instructor, and the course content is created before the class starts (but can be changed as the course progresses). The students are taught in person on campus with a lecture style, and a learning management system is typically used for content. Students may bring a laptop to class, but that is usually not a requirement. The age demographic for traditional higher education is changing, but it's usually 18 – 22 year-olds.

In the College of Adult and Graduate Studies (CAGS) at CCU, the current Computer Information Technology, Information Systems Management, Cyber Security, and Project Management courses at Colorado Christian University have evolved to present higher education in a way that is familiar but different because of our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment.

In the technical CCU online model, the following occurs:

  • A course is taught by a professor/instructor, and the course content is created before the class starts by curriculum development. The same curriculum is used by all instructors for consistency.
  • The content is locked down to match the student learning outcomes, program learning outcomes, and strategic priorities.
  • The students are taught online with a desktop operating system by multiple virtual machines, eLearning software (Articulate 360), and an asynchronous learning management system.
  • Laptops or any device can be used to access technical software using the virtual desktop.
  • Biblical integration is part of all classes.
  • The instructors or professors are identical between the two models.
  • In a traditional model, the way that courses are constructed is a result of the instructors’ talent, while in an online environment, the emphasis is on a consistent curriculum and student learning outcomes.
  • The philosophy of teaching also differs between traditional and online education—flexibility is emphasized in traditional classrooms, versus measurable outcomes for online programs.
  • Comparison of Traditional vs Online Education:
    • Real-time feedback (traditional) versus geographic diversity (online).
    • Time-constrained (traditional) versus time flexibility (online).
    • The learning management systems are identical between both models.
    • Content delivery is familiar and easy to create (PowerPoint - traditional) versus engaging and built-in knowledge checks (Articulate360 - online),
    • Style of delivery involves students listening and taking notes in a lecture (traditional) versus asynchronous participation and engagement (online),
    • Notes and research (traditional) versus installed software and ability to access from any device (online).
    • The biblical integration is a narrow focus (traditional) versus a broad focus (online).
For CCU to remain competitive in the online education market we must be innovative. We must also consider meeting the needs of our learners by being more visually driven. To help accomplish this, we have purchased and implemented software like Articulate 360.
  • Online courses have a higher dropout rate than traditional classes (Bawa, 2016). Crone and MacKay (2007) said, “…it is clear that how students are motivated to engage in higher education has been changing and will continue to change rapidly” (para. 3).
  • To combat the dropout tendency, we need to include more engaging content in our courses. To give each student the best chance at succeeding in online classes, more interactive content needs to be created to visually stimulate students, increase student engagement, and increase retention of knowledge. We also need to help prepare students for the likelihood of remote work.
  • Desktop virtualization could also be beneficial by leading to higher retention rates for online students.

The extensive advantages that our online classes confer could be imitated by many other universities, but what really sets Colorado Christian University apart is our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environment. The virtual environment at CCU contains over 95 online applications that students can access for course work. Other universities have virtual desktop environments—but they are not done at the class level and often do not have the large variety of applications available.

We have a wide variety of software tools that you can easily access:

  • The virtual desktop can be accessed remotely by almost any device including Windows PCs, Linux PCs, Chromebooks, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. The flexibility of our virtual desktop system is critical because most technical courses are native to Windows, while students often have a different computer operating system at their disposal; they need a straightforward way to access the software required for their degree program, and the virtual desktop provides just that.
  • Another advantage of our virtual desktop system is the ability to have a "virtual desktop within a virtual desktop," which allows us to do a variety of useful things in the realm of computer technology.
  • We also incorporate 3rd party remote access software to offer state-of-the-art cyber security simulations, certifications, and data warehousing from service industry leaders.


(Click the infographic to view at full size.)

Traditional education has its place but if you are considering online education, give CCU a careful look and see how its technical programs can enhance your ability to learn using the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Since 2019, the VDI has been accessed over 2000 times with a variety of software. Our goal is to produce more than just developers but instead, with exposure to a lot of languages, software, databases, project management, and critical thinking, to create architects that can design as well as code.

Vision for the Computer Information Technology program

  • A program that is Christ-centered integrating faith and a biblical worldview between and across courses while providing mastery of current technologies using the web, object-oriented and structured concepts.
  • A program that emphasizes analysis and design with a problem-solving approach over just the ability to code software.
  • A program that teaches the evaluation, skill to read, and fixing of existing software over an individual’s ability to generate only code they understand.
  • A program that emphasizes critical thinking over rote memorization.
  • A program that emphasizes innovation and maintainable solutions over a “that is how we have always done it” mentality.
  • A program that is holistic and cohesive from beginning to end.
  • A program that moves beyond files, which are limited in scope and analysis to databases and information that through business Intelligence is accessible and vital for business decision-making.
  • A program that integrates business concepts with technology to enhance requirement creation and understanding of business users.
  • A program that uses gamification to challenge the norms of teaching.
  • A program that illustrates the importance of security.
  • A program that teaches how to choose the appropriate project management approach.

Why would you get an online degree at CCU? Because it is a degree that does not adhere to past practices or conventions—instead, it combines diverse elements into a whole, adaptable, groundbreaking degree.


Blog post author, Bren Triplett

Bren has 35 years of experience in information technology. He has worked for companies like IBM and Verizon and has built large data warehouses. Bren is a director and assistant professor in charge of the computer information technology program at CCU and collaborated with the creation of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environment at Colorado Christian University.

Experience the CIT vision through the implementation of the VDI and begin your journey now at CCU.

Learn More