I have been looking for a more convenient way of developing content for my Raspberry Pi classes but it is a bit of a nuisance to keep having to switch between my laptop and the Pi.
Although you can run pretty most popular operating systems in a virtual machine, VMs only support x86 operating systems. Raspbian is a Debian variant that was written to run on the Raspberry Pi which uses an ARM CPU.
The only CPU emulator out there that does CPU emulation for ARM is QEMU.
I did get it up and running but it is not very usable. For one thing, there is a limitation in the Virtual Dev Board that prevents you from allocating more than 256MB. It is too slow to be usable but more importantly for me I cannot launch Minecraft on it (though Sonic Pi seems to launch fine after a long wait).
It does not work with the last release of Raspbian Jessie, but it does work with one of the recent releases.
Here are the instructions if you want to indulge your inner masochist -