s/z: British/American approaches to personali(s/z)ed learning
It's not often that one gets to write a blog post referencing the work of Roland Barthes but it was exactly the difference between s and z that served as the title of his famous work that provided a shortcut to an accidental discovery.
I was searching for references on Google Scholar and could not find anything relevant to my main interest. All references to "personalized learning" were strictly concerned with the design of e-learning systems and not at all with an approach to curriculum and teaching strategies. I was quickly beginning to doubt myself, the project design and Google (in that order) when I realized that I was using the American spelling of 'personalized' with a 'z' (not surprising given that the American dialect is the source of my English competence). When I typed in the same search with British spelling 'personalised' with an 's' I got a completely different set of results much more in tune with what this project is aimed at investigating. Compare:
What a difference a voiced sybilant makes! This leads to the interesting and very much preliminary conclusion that there is a differnce, at least in emphasis, if not in approach between the British and American approach to 'personalised learning'. In US research, it is almost purely in the context of e-learning delivery while in the UK, it is more a matter of the organization of the teaching/learning process.
The difference is not as pronounced outside the research community, as this US company shows, but it is still noticeable:
Basically, 'personalised learning' is at the very heart of the UK's educational establishment's agenda whereas in the US, it is still slightly at the margin of interest. At least, as far as its web persence as judged by Google is concerned.
[Edited to add:] Strangely enough, Live Academic can find absolutely nothing when searching with an 's'.