Facilitating a Virtual CCS Cards Session


Facilitating a virtual CCS Cards experince with the VFE

A step-by-step description of how to facilitate a group virtual CCS image cards experience using the CCS Cards Virtual Facilitation Environment desktop application.

All you need:

  • CCS Cards VFE desktop application installed on your PC or Mac
  • CCS VFE Account (with a Participant Pass for each participant)
  • some participants (with an iPhone or Android mobile device)
  • a video conferencing application with screen-sharing

PARTICIPANT INVITE EMAIL: while not necessary, you can help your participants get ready for the session by sending them an invitation email with App QR links [Download sample participant invite doc].

Note: the session plan assumes that you know what CCS Cards are and how they are typically used, and how to use screen-sharing functions on your video conferencing application. We recommend you take a moment to download and read the: 5 CCS Fundamentals

1/ Sign-in

  1. Sign in with your VFE account details (if you don’t have an account, you can sign-up here).
  2. Ensure you have enough Participant Passes available.

Tip: You need one Participant Pass (PP) for each participant who will be joining your session. PPs are single-use.

VFE Sign In screen

2/ Create a New Session

  1. Click “Manage Sessions”
  2. Click “Start new session” to go to “Session settings”
  3. Enter a Session Title (this is for your reference only and is not visible to your participants)
  4. Enter a Facilitator Display Name to be displayed in the bottom left corner of the VFE screen, so your participants know who you are (defaults to the owner of the account, but can be changed to any name).
  5. Choose a Vision Pack for the session.
  6. Shuffle? Select whether the pack should be shuffled before opening or left in standard pack order. If shuffle is on, each participant’s pack on their mobile device will be in a random order.
  7. Enable (or disable) joining and sharing on start. This is checked by default, meaning that participants can immediately join a session once you provide them with a Session ID. You can easily turn sharing and joining on and off from within the session.
  8. Click “Start session”.
Manage Sessions screen
New Session Settings

3/ Invite participants to join

  1. If you have the chance prior to your session, invite participants to download the free CCS VFE Cards App from Apple or Google Play (sample invite with QR Code links). They won’t be able to join a session until you provide them with a Session ID, but the app includes some simple introductory screens so participants came familiarise themselves with the nature of CCS Cards and the basic app functions.
  2. When the session starts, it will open on the Participants Board, and you will see the words “Waiting for participants” showing in the bottom tool bar.
  3. With your participants on your video conferencing app, share your VFE application screen so everyone can see it.
  4. Select the Session info dropdown menu. The first item in the list is the Session ID. You can click on this number to display it full screen.

Tip: the Session ID screen has a "Copy" button to copy it to your clipboard for pasting in Chat or email if required

  1. Ask participants to click on the yellow "JOIN Session” button and enter the Session ID along with their name, and click JOIN. If they are able to join the session, participants will be presented with the green “Open Session Cards” button.
  2. As participants join, their coloured icons will begin appearing along the bottom toolbar. The zero (0) on the top of their icon indicates that they have not yet chosen or shared any card choices. You will also see notifications appearing in the right corner of the screen as each participant joins.
  3. If your participants are new to CCS Cards and/or the CCS Cards App, give them a quick app tour using the built-in App Joining Screens and App How-to Screens slideshows available from the Session dropdown and encourage them to practise swiping and selecting cards.

Tip: If you use the Zoom menu items in the top toolbar you will also see a coloured frame appearing for each participant. These frames are used to hold each participant’s card choices.

App Download QR Links
App How-to screens
App Joining screens

4/ Introduce CCS Cards

  1. Introduce the use of CCS Cards by letting participants know that any card can mean anything to anyone — there are no set meanings for the cards. There's a nice little slide for this in App-How-to slideshow.
  2. Encourage participants to swipe or click right through the pack to make their selection. This is important, as some participants may be tempted to just pick the very first cards that pop out for them and then move on.

This is OK, but it is best practice to strongly encourage everyone to go right through the pack, double-tapping on any cards that seem to be relevant — even if they are not sure why.

Once they create a subset of possible choices, they can refine them on the “Selected Pack” screen. Just like shuffling through a real pack of cards and putting some aside in a small 'pile' that you then pick up and further whittle down to your final choices.

TIP: This practice encourages deeper, more divergent thinking, increases opportunities for discovery, motivates individual sharing and creates engagement and connection across the group as selections are revealed.


Introducing CCS Cards screen

5/ Present your topic

  1. Add a title block (Right-click in a blank space or click the Titles menu) to the purple facilitator’s frame and type in your CCS Cards topic. Or, if you prefer, just announce your topic.

Eg. “Go right through your pack to find 5 cards, that for you, describe the elements of an ideal team experience.”

  1. Note: for the purposes of brevity in this step-by-step, we have dived straight into a big topic. In reality, it would more usual to start a CCS Cards session with a simple opener activity such as “Click to a random card in your pack and use it as a springboard to share something about yourself that other people probably don’t know.”
  2. Ask them to swipe or click right through their pack selecting cards (as described above) and to gradually make their way to the Layout/Share screen where they can further refine their choices down to 5 cards.

Assure everyone that they can take as long as they need to make their selections. Encourage them to "sit back" and gradually go through the pack.

  1. Ask them to click the green "Share to VFE" button to share their final choices.
  2. As participants share their choices, the notifications will being popping up (eg "JC has place cards"), the card numbers on the participant's icons will show the number of cards chosen, and the cards themselves will appear in each participant's respective frame.


  • don’t zoom out just yet, wait until you can see that everyone has shared their cards before starting to reveal.
  • before zooming out, you might like to select “Flip Face Down” from the Display dropdown menu. This will turn everyone’s cards face down so you can reveal them as required.


Display the topic
App: Share to VFE screen
Flip cards face down before revealing
Click on a participant's icon to zoom to their cards

6/ Facilitate sharing

  1. Facilitate sharing of choices by asking for a volunteer and then clicking on their initialled participant icon on the Participant Bar at the bottom of the screen. This will immediately zoom the display to this participant's chosen cards frame.
  2. Right-clicking on a face down card will flip it face up. To flip all of a participant's cards at once, right-click on the participant’s icon and select "Flip Cards Face Up".
  3. Use the Zoom Out, Zoom and Zoom In menu items to adjust the view if necessary.
  4. Give everyone a chance to share their cards.
  5. If appropriate, encourage discussion and questions about choices across the group — similar and unique responses. Zooming right out for an all-choices view can be useful to invite questioning.


Zoom out for an all-choices view
CCS VFE main interface diagram

7/ Participants refine and annotate their selection

  1. Ask everyone to now look back at their 5 choices and to select the one or two cards that most strongly represent their response.
  2. Have them add some annotations to these final choice(s) by double-tapping these cards and clicking the little annotations icon. (If they need a little help, just bring up the last slide in the App How-to slideshow)
  3. Ask them to click the Share to VFE button again to send through this update.
  4. Updates to participant’s choices will be signalled by a small purple bell in the top corner of their icon.
  5. Display the updates individually by right-clicking on each participant’s icon and selecting Refresh Selection, or, all at once, by using “Refresh Participant Selections” from the Manage dropdown menu.
  6. Any cards that have embedded annotations will now show a green annotations tag in the bottom right corner. (If you don’t see any tags, you may need to toggle “Show/Hide tags” from the Display Menu).
  7. To open or close embedded annotations, click the green icon on an individual card or use the Open/Close annotations item from the Display Menu.
  8. Give everyone an opportunity to share their final choices and annotations if they wish.


App: refine and annotate
Green annotations icons and update bells
Updated with final 2 cards

8/ Create a Collection

  1. As each participant shares their final choices, right-click on one or more of their cards and select “Add to Collection”.
  2. Adding a card to the Collection will do three things:
    1. a copy of the card will be added to the Big Board (see below)
    2. the card will be visible in the “Current Collection” by hovering over the Collection Count icon in the bottom right of the screen
    3. a purple Collection tag will appear in the left corner of the card. The tag will also be added to all other occurrences of this card across all participants.


  • VFE version 1.2 adds an "Add All to Collection" function under the Manage menu and under each of the participant's icon menus to speed up Collection creation.
  • The appearance of the purple Collection icon in the bottom left of cards across all the participants is a nice way to emphasise common ground and points of divergence.

Add cards to the Collection
Six cards in the Current Collection

9/ Use the Big Board

  1. Click the Big Board tab to switch to the Big Board.
  2. All collection cards will be visible. You can drag cards, add notes, add titles, and open and close annotations as required.
  3. On the Big Board, the green annotations icons will now show an initialled icon for each participant who had chosen that card. If a participant had embedded an annotation, their icon will include a little text image.

Tip: on the Big Board, if a card was chosen by more than one participant, you will need to click through the tiny participant icons to see each participant’s name and annotation.


Collection cards appear on the Big Board

10/ Tighten the vision

  1. Have the group discuss and debate choices and associated comments to look for overlapping ideas and themes.
  2. Help them to combine and collate the cards and comments to produce a tighter set by dragging cards into similar groups, and add notes to highlight key ideas.
  3. Remind participants that it is not really the cards that are important, it is the meanings that are being uncovered.
  4. Keep everyone involved and engaged in the process. From time to time you may like to ask the group or particular participants questions such as:
    • “So would you all agree on this choice?”
    • “Which is stronger for you?”
    • “What’s most important for you?”
    • “Which card or meaning could you not live without?”
  1. Encourage the group to try to get the vision down to between 4 and 8 cards. There’s no magic to the number, but experience suggests that this is sufficient to memorably summarise the main elements.

Tip: It is okay if the group has lots of themes, but as a minimum, it is best that they at least reduce the initial collection down by a few cards to ensure a common feeling of commitment and combined voice.


Tighten the vision

11/ Snap the result

  1. Use the Snap dropdown menu to capture a snapshot of the Big Board or the Current view (and any other views you would like).
  2. The snap shot will be stored as a high resolution png file in a folder called CCSCards in your computer’s default Documents directory.
  3. Snaps are ready for immediate sharing, sending, printing or presenting.
Take a Snap
Snap taken with Current View

12/ End the Session

  1. To end a VFE session, simply select “End Session” from the Session dropdown.
  2. The session can be Resumed or Reviewed from the Manage Sessions area at any time in the future.
End Session

13/ After the session

Access to the session on the CCS VFE Cards app will remain possible by your participants for up to 48 hours after you started the session.

This feature allows you to offer follow-up activities for your participants to carry out after the session. For instance, you could ask them to select another 5 cards to reflect on another aspect of their experience and to share it to the VFE “before tomorrow” so you can collect all the contributions and add them to the next steps.

Resume a session: once a session is ended, you can select it from the Previous Sessions list in the Manage Sessions area. Resuming a session retrieves the last state of the session and retrieves the last shared update from participants. A session can be resumed up until 48 hours from when it was started. After this time, the option to Resume is replaced by Review.

Review a session: when a session has changed to review mode, the facilitator can still edit elements such as notes, titles and card placements and produce Snaps for distribution, but participants can no longer join. Reviewing is useful for completing activities such as tightening a vision on the Big Board at a later time, or just for presenting results.

Tip: The time remaining before a session expires is displayed on the Session tile in the Manage Sessions area.


Session can be Resumed until expired