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Q&A with Carol Martsolf – How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Learning
Publication Date
July 1st 2020, 12:00 pm

Carol Martsolf is a vice president and chief learning officer at Urban. She runs the Urban Training Institute – the national, corporate-wide training function of Urban Engineers, including programs for clients. Carol has developed over 150 technical courses for PDHs for engineers and has issued over 15,000 PDH credits to students. As many things have moved online this year, it was a challenge for those who provide and attend trainings to move into the virtual realm. Remote learning is the go-to method for training right now, so we talked to Carol to get tips on how to get the most out of a session virtually.


Q: What challenges have training professionals faced in the switch to virtual learning?


A: The main challenge training professionals are facing is helping their participants feel engaged. Most are not as used to doing virtual learning; many are able to drive engagement from being in the same room as others. The trick now is to keep up engagement through screens. We at the Urban Training Institute have designed our webinars to be as engaging as possible, with a lot of questions and interaction to keep people feeling connected to the learning.


Q: How can learners get the most out of virtual presentations?


A: Learners should try not to multi-task during virtual presentations. It is best for learners to set up a space where they are able to focus attention on the program, if possible. If space is a limitation, look for additional ways to block out distractions.


Q: What are some tips for learners who are heading into a virtual session?


A: Before the start of a virtual learning session, make sure you understand the virtual platform. It is crucial to be able to comfortably mute and unmute yourself, as well as be able to send in chat comments and questions to be engaged.


Q: What are some tips for training professionals heading into a virtual presentation?


A: It’s very important that training professions do not simply use the materials for in-person sessions for the online sessions. They actually have to be redesigned for optimum engagement virtually. Attendees will not be raising their hands for questions as they are used to; remind them to submit questions throughout the presentation. At the Urban Training Institute, we have completely developed a new process for live, virtual synchronous online learning. We have fully redesigned our approach. It took some time to learn, but it was well worth it.


Q: What can learners do to be more engaged with distance learning?


A: To be more engaged, learners should be sure to enter the online environment early and maintain possession of the link for entrance. And, anyone who has any difficulties or does not understand the online platform, can ask the Urban Training Institute for test runs and mock sessions to ensure successful connections for trainings. We are happy to help make it the best experience for you!


Q: Where do you see virtual learning going in the future?


A: I think in the future, learning will be a blended approach of some in-person time and much more time online than has been utilized in the past. For Urban, we are exploring options for the future. We will be having some great webinars this summer, but also some new roundtable discussions before September. We are looking forward to rolling them out! And we are always open to suggestions. Please send suggestions to us at!


Urban Training Institute