In learning circles, we define push content that an organization pushes on to its employees or constituents. It is often content that organized by instructional design experts alongside subject matter experts. The recipient often has no say as to what that content is and the order of that content (and because of such, much pull online learning is synchronous). The user also has no say as to the importance of that content, whether it is required or some other level. Push content is often found in highly regulated companies, industries, or verticals, and is typically found on most Learning Management Systems.
However, pull content is the opposite. It is content that employees or users in organization take at their leisure. Users can go and pull down whatever they want, whenever the want. It places the emphasis on the learner to decide for himself or herself what they need to learn, thus often being asynchronistic. This does not negate the importance of instructional design. Instead instruction design takes on a different notion, developing and presenting content in a different format. This is being driven by the power of social media, and pull content is often found in smaller, more agile companies.
Push v. Pull Differences
|Organization -> Content -> User||User <- Content <- Organization|
|Generally Synchronous Learning||Generally Asynchronous Learning|
|Structured, Rigid, Static||Designed, Dynamic, Flexible|
|Formal Training||Informal Learning|
|Organization-directed. Organization decides importance, Organization decides content scope||User-directed learning. User decides importance, User decides content scope|
|Experts set curriculum||Learner defined curriculum|
|Tightly knitted components||Loosely connected autonomous components|
|Requires extrinsic motivation ("You do this")||Relies on intrinsic motivation ("I want to do this.")|
|Examples: Training, Lecture, Synchronous Learning, Courses, Workshops||Examples: Learning, Social Learning, Informal Learning, Asynchronous Learning|
For most learning and development groups, transitioning to a pull organization is a paradigm-shift from the traditional subject matter expert content creation versus the user-generated content creation. Pull content pushes the paradigm from telling and forced learning to a conversation, informal even social learning. This challenges the roles of the trainer and the learning and development model. It exalts the importance of performance support team. Instructional designers become more like consultants recommending and vetting content presentation and packaging. Just as news reporting has changed from experts telling consumers what’s happening to both telling and vetting news, journalistic consultants as such.