Orla Cronin Research

Social science research and strategic consultancy

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Training in virtual facilitation

Avoid this, by learning how to design and facilitate engaging, inclusive and productive online workshops. The long standing online training in virtual facilitation, on which Orla has been collaborating for the past 5 years, starts again on 16th January, and there is *one* seat left. The course runs remotely, on 8 consecutive Thursdays, at 15:00 UTC/GMT. Bespoke/in house training on your preferred conferencing platform is also available: contact orla@orlacronin.com With thanks to Chris Lysy for the cartoon.

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Group Facilitation Training, Manchester

Do you want to help groups to have constructive conversations? Would you like meetings to be more participatory, collaborative and creative?  How can we ensure that groups define and meet their objectives, with no-one left behind? Come to the Group Facilitation Methods course (4th-5th December 2019) in Manchester.  Suitable for both novice and experienced facilitators. Trainer: Orla Cronin.  Booking link here

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Group facilitation methods training, Dublin

My colleague Miriam O’Donoghue and I are running a Group Facilitation Methods course with ICA:UK in Dublin on 1st-2nd October – some places still available. The details are here: https://www.ica-uk.org.uk/index.php?option=com_civicrm&task=civicrm/event/info&reset=1&id=207

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Group facilitation methods training

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Virtual facilitation training

Internationally, across the public, private and voluntary sector, we spend up to 17 hours a week in meetings.

32% of all meetings are virtual (38% for employees under 35 years old)

67% of employees report that more than half the meetings they attend are not of value!

Yet what proportion of our training and facilitation budgets do we invest in making virtual meetings more engaging and productive?

Why not start with training virtual facilitators? 

ICA:UK’s virtual facilitation training starts on 28th September 2017 and runs for 8 weeks. You will learn virtual facilitation skills that apply across platforms e.g. Zoom, Gotomeeting, Skype

  • Learn to lead engaging online meetings that elicit innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.
  • Gain competency leading virtual meetings with Adobe Connect, and ToP Focused Conversation.
  • Build your confidence as a virtual facilitator.
  • Learn tools and techniques for eliciting participation, virtual meeting design, and five best practices.

Learning Objectives

To develop basic skills essential to virtual facilitation, including how to use tested and proven collaboration tools:

  • Adobe Connect — a flexible virtual collaboration platform where participants can build engaging meetings through the use of electronic sticky walls, virtual breakout rooms, and a variety of pods that elicit participation.
  • Basecamp — a lightweight, web-based collaboration and productivity platform. Members can post messages, share links, share any kind of file, add events to a calendar, and assign tasks.

Who should attend this course?

This course is intended for anyone who is leading virtual meetings, virtual training, or webinars in the private, public or voluntary sector including Project Managers, Team Leaders, Facilitators, Trainers, Coaches, and Community Activists

Training approach

Participants experience practical, hands-on learning:

PRACTICE. Integrate learning by designing a virtual Focused Conversation with a partner, and by practising as facilitators and producers, with the rest of the class acting as participants.

COACHING. Receive one hour of one-on-one coaching from a trainer. Use the hour any way you like — to cover a topic you missed, polish a skill, or to go deeper.

FEEDBACK. Receive peer and trainer feedback during practice sessions.

CLASSROOM. Eight virtual sessions using Adobe Connect.

ASSIGNMENTS. One to two hours of assignments between sessions deepens the learning, and includes practice with a partner.

RESOURCES. Collaborate with classmates in Basecamp (no subscription needed).

Book here or contact orla@orlacronin.com for more information

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Online training

I am embroiled in preparing for 2 online courses at the moment. One is the Intrac Online M&E course – we have 17 participants spanning 4 continents.  We’re using Moodle as the asynchronous course platform, for discussions, homework and resources, and Blackboard Collaborate as the synchronous workshop/seminar platform.

I’m also starting to train today on an in-house Virtual Facilitation Online course with the Center for Disease control in the US, alongside with my ICA:USA colleagues Ester Mae Cox, Nileen Verbeten, Brenda Schmidt and Sheila Cooke.  For this, we’re using Wiggio for the asynchronous component, and Adobe Connect for the workshops.

This is giving me a great opportunity to compare and contrast different platforms.  Part of course design, in addition to creating content, is designing for learning and fostering peer interaction: this is often sacrificed in online training, but in fact, it becomes even more important to design, as it doesn’t necessarily happen naturally when people aren’t milling around drinking coffee together and chatting when they sit beside each other.

Within our training, we’re pushing ourselves to continuously model best practice in online facilitation…. to avoid webinar-induced comas!

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Intrac Online M&E course

Orla is delighted to have become an INTRAC associate. She is lead trainer on the forthcoming online M&E course.  This marries her skills in monitoring and evaluation, and online facilitation, beautifully, and she’s really looking forward to the next course, which starts on June 12th.

This 4 week (part time) course is aimed at participants who are relatively new to M&E.  It aims to develop an understanding of the principles and practice of effective M&E, share examples of M&E approaches and tools appropriate to different types of interventions and contexts, and will help participants to tackle their own M&E challenges.  Click here for a more detailed description.

The ‘synchronous’ (real time) meetings will run on Blackboard Ultra, and the asynchronous learning forum takes place on Moodle.

Click here to register for this course

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Intrac Online M&E Course

Orla is delighted to be training one the forthcoming Intrac Online M&E Course, which is now open for registration. Further information available here.


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Learning co-ordinator “I define me”

I’m really pleased to be collaborating with the Cape Town based consultancy Southern Hemisphere to provide learning support to projects in South Africa, Columbia and the UK, focused on empowering young women to move away from gangs. One of the projects I’m supporting is even on my doorstep: cycling rather than flying to meet clients is a rare treat!


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Free Theory of Change webinar



Date: Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Time: 9am CST / 10am EST / 3pm GMT / 4pm CET

Duration: 1 Hour

Dear webinar registrant,

Thanks for registering for Wednesdays How to create a powerful and ‘best in class’ Theory of Change webinar.

In this webinar you will learn:

  1. What makes a powerful and compelling Theory of Change
  2. Top tips on how to create a Theory of Change, including free tools and resources to take away
  3. How learning communities can help you to develop a ‘best in class’ Theory of Change

The webinar will also create the opportunity to connect with other similar organisations that have developed or are in the process of developing, their Theories of Change.

The event joining details follow below:

Event number: 849 183 611

Event password: TOC1


To join the online event


  1. Click here to join the online event.

Or copy and paste the following link to a browser:


  1. Click “Join Now”.


To join the audio conference only


Call-in toll number (UK): +44-203-478-5289

Global call-in numbers: https://impactinfocus.webex.com/impactinfocus/globalcallin.php?serviceType=EC&ED=452714802&tollFree=0

Access code: 849 183 611


For assistance


You can contact your inFocus Host at:


Can’t join the event?

The  playback of UCF (Universal Communications Format) rich media files requires appropriate players. To view this type of rich media files in the meeting, please check whether you have the players installed on your computer by going to https://impactinfocus.webex.com/impactinfocus/onstage/systemdiagnosis.php

We look forward to seeing you.

Laura Goldsmith

The Marketing Team


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