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Upskilling in a Pandemic: Lessons in Virtual Training from the Volkswagen Academy

Welcome to the 24G podcast, Transformation Alley by 24G.

In this inaugural episode, 24G CEO Scott Wiemels and 24G Director of Learning Services Leanne Knowles speak with Darrin Martin, Manager of Training and Development for the Volkswagen Academy.

A major part of the 24G Volkswagen Academy partnership is VW Cup, a socialized, gamified learning engagement platform developed by 24G, originally launched in April 2016 with continual updates and platform enhancements over the years.

VW Cup treats training as an experience, rather than a utility, and over the past few years has become a vital hub of learning activity for more than 20,000 VW dealership personnel in the United States and Canada. During the pandemic, the VW Cup platform became an even more important virtual training center. With in-person training completely off the table, the virtual capabilities of VW became the single source of employee learning—a training solution made more important by the fact that the pandemic shutdown occurred while Volkswagen was making the seismic business shift to e-mobility.

Volkswagen Group recently announced plans to launch almost 70 new electric models in the next ten years with a target projection of 22 million electric vehicles by 2028.

In this discussion, Martin discusses the original challenge of achieving company-wide buy-in for the VW Cup platform at a time when terms like "gamification" and "experiential learning" were still in their infancy and were commonly misunderstood. He also discusses the ever-evolving feature set and role of the VW Cup engagement platform, as VW Cup adoption and overall engagement levels began to take off within the company.

“The whole concept was, 'How do you reward and engage users through this gamified infrastructure?' — and that’s what we accomplished."

Martin also talks about why VW Cup has been so successful, including the features that helped set it apart as a powerful engagement tool, such as:

  • Getting Social. VW Cup provides users the opportunity to define themselves in this virtual environment, with social interaction and self promotion, which equals social currency for the user.

  • Rewards. The platform rewards users for their engagement through points, badges, avatar enhancements, and the points redemption store.

  • Recognition. VW Cup recognizes users for their accomplishments within VW Cup and on the job. Currently, users receive special status for certification, tenure, and other forms of participation.

  • Innovation. Updates, enhancements, and new content to VW Cup never stops, with processes in place to review, adapt, and execute continuous platform improvements.

  • Leaderboard. VW Cup celebrates engaged users, providing momentum and legitimacy to the platform, and takes advantage of the natural human desire to compete, play, and be recognized.

  • Leveling Up. The platform “bread crumbs” users to boost engagement, leveraging the power of the points system to encourage users to always reach for the next level.

  • Personalization. Perhaps most importantly, VW Cup allows users to create their own avatar and profile pages, as well as enhance their online reputation through points and achievement recognition, creating an in-house de facto VW social network.

  • Steady Content Cadence & Proactive Outreach. VW Cup admins are diligent about creating new challenges and marketing them weekly. This creates an audience of expectant users, excited to engage with weekly emails, text messages, and in-platform user notifications.

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