Creating Micro-Scenarios – X-Men Plays Hockey

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The purpose of Micro-learning is to provide short, snappy and provocative stories to help learners reflect on a real-life situation or provoke social learning conversations in discussion rooms, Twitters, Blogs, etc.

Full-scale scenarios are elaborate scenarios with multiple branching while micro-scenarios are small vignettes with 1 to 2 branches or a single compelling story leaving learners to reflect on the choices and consequences.

Even if Micro-Scenarios are 1-3 minute activities, they contain these key elements:

  1. An emotional event
  2. Characters involved in a story
  3. Emotions are high
  4. Conflicts have to be resolved
  5. Choices are presented
  6. Consequences have failures or successes

Preview Examples

To view examples of Micro-Scenarios, please click here, and Search (top right) for “Micro-Scenario.” Or you can visit and Search (top right) for “Micro-Scenario.” You will find these two scenarios below.


Hockey stick

The hockey stick has three parts: toe, heel and handle.

In storytelling, which is the heart of scenarios, the toe represents the past or present situation before problem (or the heel). The heel represents a depression or change where the emotions are heightened due to a problem that needs to be resolved; the heel is pointed down or at the bottom. And the handle represents an upward result from resolutions of the conflict.

This is a very rudimentary example.

“I was OK.” (Toe)
“But then something went wrong.” (Heel)
“Thank God with his help I recovered.” (Handle)

This is another example.

“My performance was great last year.” (Toe)
“Today, they are dropping to 30%.” (Heel)
“I was procrastinating on some tasks.” (Heel)
“What do I do?”(Heel)
“Once I started to focus on the must do tasks,
my performance started to excel.” (Handle)

Let’s use the X-Men playing Hockey illustration.

Using the X-Men approach represents having two or more involved characters. They have their respective toes, heels and handles. In X-Men we combine the two characters into one scenario. This approach is beneficial since many learning issues usually involve other people and emotions are oftentimes heightened between characters.

Let’s see an example below.

(1a/1b) Toes – John and Sarah

John was a manager and Sarah reports to John. John promoted Sarah because she has been an effective leader. Sarah was thrilled with the news.

Heels crossing between John and Sarah.

Months went by and Sarah noticed that John has become overly demanding and to some extent unreasonable with his expectations.

One day, John and Sarah had an altercation which ended with Sarah rushing to her lawyer and filing a suit against John. John was appalled.

When John was asked by Nancy, the Human Resources Manager, what happened, John said, “Well heck, I just asked her to treat one of our key customers to dinner.” Nancy asked: “So what should you do John?”

At this point, we now have all the elements: Event, Characters, Emotions, and Conflicts that needed to be resolved. Now you are ready to present the Choices.

Conflict Resolution Question

Before presenting the choices, we need to add a “conflict resolution question.”

For example: “So what should you do John?”

Then we can present the choices:

Choice 1 – “Nothing”, John Says.
Choice 2 – “What do you think Nancy,” asks John.
Choice 3 – “I should talk with Sarah and ask why?”

The scenario – the handle

Each choice has a consequence which leads to a resolution and/or a failure which could lead to more conflicts and choices. If the answer leads to a resolution, it allows John and Sarah to resolve the conflicts; the resolution represents the handle of the hockey stick. If the consequence is a failure and does not lead to a resolution, the problem continues to be in the heel of the scenario.

Scenarios without handles for self-reflections

Open-ended Micro-Scenarios are short stories without the choices and consequences. They are are excellent ways to provoke and encourage learners to submit and share their ideas on how to resolve the scenario. Learners can post their comments in discussion rooms, webinars, classroom training, and social learning sites like Twitter, Blogs and Wikis.

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