Laura J. Leslie*, Darren Campbell, Rebecca Broadbent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


The move to off campus learning and teaching in Higher Education (HE) in the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in innovative and exciting opportunities for students to study in a more flexible, bespoke way from home using a Personal Computer (PC) or equivalent device. However, for an Engineering student to benefit from these opportunities they would require regular and prolonged access to a working, up-to-date PC, which they can use to download and access software and applications, join group discussions, access learning materials etc. This access is perhaps less likely for students from lower income backgrounds or areas of higher deprivation, and there is a risk of digital inequality widening the attainment gap. At Aston University (AU), a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) was implemented in order to provide students with a way to access high performance PCs remotely using their own device from home in order to use software and applications. To evaluate the VDI as a solution to digital inequality, a questionnaire (QNR) was developed and sent to AU students studying across a range of engineering programmes, and across a range of year groups. Results from the QNR (n=53) showed that almost three quarters (73.6 %) of respondents accessed the VDI during their study, with students being able to rate the usefulness of this for different activities. Of those students that did not access the VDI, the most commonly chosen reason was that they did not need to use it (50.0 %). The VDI system implemented at AU was well used by respondents, and comments were positive overall. Administering an online QNR presented some limitations to this study. Therefore, a paper-based QNR will be used for future research, which will be conducted at the end of this academic year. This will also allow a comparison of results between those in fully online learning environments, and the current blended delivery modes used at AU.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication18th CDIO International Conference, CDIO 2022 - Proceedings
EditorsMaria Sigridur Gudjonsdottir, Haraldur Audunsson, Arkaitz Manterola Donoso, Gudmundur Kristjansson, Ingunn Saemundsdottir, Joseph Timothy Foley, Marcel Kyas, Angkee Sripakagorn, Janne Roslof, Jens Bennedsen, Kristina Edstrom, Natha Kuptasthien, Reidar Lyng
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9789935965561
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event18th International CDIO Conference, CDIO 2022 - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 13 Jun 202215 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International CDIO Conference
ISSN (Electronic)2002-1593


Conference18th International CDIO Conference, CDIO 2022


  • blended delivery
  • Digital inequality
  • digital infrastructure
  • online learning
  • Standard 7


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