There is no difference. The person against whom the directive/order is addressed must fulfill the requirements of either.
It really depends on the context in which the "direction" is made. Generally a party is only required to do something if that something is reduced to a court order. As such, if a Support Magistrate directs you to, say, set aside money for college, but same isn't in a court order, then it's just a suggestion, but you haven't been ordered to do so (subject to contempt proceedings if you fail to do so). I'd suggest to bring in your specific context to a NYC Child Support lawyer for a full assessment.
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Irrespective of whether a judge directed my client to do X or ordered that X be done by my client, my guidance to client would be the same - you are required to do X.