New Literacies’ Chapter 7 Review: 80% “Pull” and 20% “Push”

My experience of Digital Storytelling at CU Denver has been a combination of both “push” and “pull” as explored in this week’s New Literacies reading by Lankshear and Knobel. To further elaborate my viewpoint, I see “push” as NASA Headquarters providing a launching pad and wisdom, while “pull” is the rocket launching itself through a passionate purpose and the desire learn. Once in space, that passion further allows the rocket to steer its own educational journey.
While both “push” and “pull” are necessary, “pull” is where the magic happens.


Keeping the rocket metaphor in mind, I would say 20% of my learning has been “pull” and 80%, “pull”. The 20% “push” portion has included meeting assignment due dates, reading New Literacies, and identifying a focal theme. Initially, I wanted to include creating various social media accounts on WordPress, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, and Soundcloud in “push”, but I think those actually fall into “push/pull” since they were assigned from NASA Headquarters, but also acted as the collaborative platforms that fueled the rocket launch.

Lurking on Tweetdeck and visiting my peer’s blogs has been my main form of collaboration. Through these practices, I was absorbed into the Digital Storytelling community and supported by its “pull” as well as my own “pull”. To better understand “pull” Brown and Adler say:

“A ‘pull’ approach assumes ‘passion-based learning’ that is motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something” (2008:30).

I realize now that the biggest “pull” of Digital Storytelling has been my focal theme, which is grief. My recent experience losing my mother has made me passionate about grief, how loss works, and catharsis. This focal theme has been the intrinsic motivation NASA Headquarters aimed to generate my education launch or “pull”. Grief has guided almost all my work and I believe “pull” has even helped heal me.

When I began this class, I had no idea how all the social media components of Digital Storytelling was going to come together. Hagel, Brown, and Davison sum up this experience perfectly, “Pull approaches respond to uncertainty and the need for sustainability by seeking to expand opportunities for creativity on the part of ‘local participants dealing with immediate needs” (2005:4).

Immediate needs account for 80% “pull” and include the completion of DS106 assignments, the daily creates, and loads of research. From my own desire to learn more about grief, I have spent a great deal of time sifting through compelling death and loss stories, ruminating over which assignments would make good lessons on making sense of loss, and learning how to use new programs to execute assignments. For example, I had an immediate need to complete a DS106 assignment within a weeks-time. The assignment was to create a video of 5-7 days-worth of self-portraits strung together. First I had to imagine how this creation would look as a finished product. Once I could envision the end result, I set out to take the selfies, upload the photos into iMovie, and figured out how to repeatedly show the pictures to music. The end result, “7 Days of Selfie Indulgence”, was a mere minute long, but took 3-4 hours of work.

Even though learning through “pull” is incredibly effective, I also needed a little “push” from Digital Storytelling to see my capabilities. I am reading a book I normally would not read and engaging in social platforms that are not my forte. Without this little “push” I might not have ever learned that I like to blog or tweet. These collaborative platforms helped me find people who were dealing with similar topics and engage with a community that I otherwise would have remained unaware of. I am inspired by the work my classmates produce and, over the course of Digital Storytelling, have come to enjoy the process of cultivating my blog.

The “push” and “pull” of Digital Storytelling has elicited true learning for me.

New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Third Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel. McGraw-Hill Education 2011.


  • Hi Susannah,
    I like how you applied the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ model to DS106 and Digital Storytelling. I, too, fit in the 80% bucket. I find myself utilizing Social Media and other outlets as my source of data gathering. In my experience as a corporate trainer, I have learned a great deal about myself – personally, professionally, culturally, etc. – from the individuals I have had the pleasure of training. Although I don’t learn as much from ‘push’ and I do from ‘pull’, learning can be cyclical in a sense.

    • Cyclical is a good way to express the “push” and “pull” Jason.In my past job, I was a corporate trainer. We worked on a three-week cycle, but I felt that model desperately needed an upgrade. Although I’m not in telecommunications anymore, I keep wondering how our Digital Storytelling class could have been used to make the sales/process training more game-like and relevant.

  • Hi Susannah,I really enjoyed reading your post because I had similar thoughts when I was reading. I feel most of this class is ‘pull’ but the little amount of ‘push’ has helped me figure it all out. The NASA comparison was a perfect connection.

    I can’t imagine losing a parent and I’m glad this class has helped you find others who are dealing with grief and given you th support you need! When we first started I just figured the 4 peer comments we needed were just to satisfy a requirement but in this class more than ever it seems people are commenting because they want to, not because they have to. People are commenting on DS106 assignments Because It’s fun to see what we can create!

    • Thanks for acknowledging my mom, Emily. 🙂
      When I first asked Remi if grief would be a good topic he said, “Yes!” (in more words of course). Even with his insight, I was still a little afraid to embrace such a heavy topic for such a fun class. Now, I’m so glad I took the risk instead of choosing a less interesting, but safe theme.

  • Hi Susannah,I too like the idea that an education will have both push and pull elements. I am both a classic autodidact and a good traditional student, so I tend to respond to an even blend, and I am finding UCD’s ILT program to have that blend.
    I also know, from experience and from being a teacher, that people experience roadblocks on both the push and the pull dimensions, sometimes severe roadblocks. I think education will always have both elements – teachers would do well to know how to employ both dimensions in their work with students.

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