One thing that drives me nuts is watching money be wasted. Pretty much every institution finds ways to spend money unnecessarily, but schools are often quite proficient at this skill.
What makes this even more frustrating is that teachers are by nature one of the most sharing and willing to contribute group of people I've known. Teachers create things every day that they'd be willing to share with others. If only someone would coordinate this resource and bring a true community to fruition!
Sadly, it seldom happens. I blame proprietary formats and money-hungry businesses. Teachers have been slammed for so long by the copyright zealots of the textbook publishing industry that they simply are unaware that there can be an open alternative to the way they do their jobs. Certainly within individual schools and districts there may be a large amount of sharing going on. By this I do not mean illegal sharing. Instead, I'm talking about the plethora of lesson plans, activities, and strategies that teachers create and use in their classroom. Most teachers would love to share their creations and utilise the creations of other teachers. This occurs whenever teachers get together at a workshop--they exchange email addresses and promise to send each other their creations.
Many times, though, they feel guilty doing this, or feel that it is too good to be true to be able to "steal" from other teachers. [They use that term, "stealing"! when they should be saying "sharing."] Where does this come from? Maybe from the fact that any time teachers attend a workshop sponsored by major textbook publishers, they are given complimentary copies of what often appear to be wonderful resources. As soon as they open up the book to make a few copies to share in class, though, they see the strict copyright warnings printed on every page. This is so common that they believe it is typical of teachers sharing resources: there's always a cost.
But, there isn't always a cost. Most of the resources that teachers share are not photocopied from copyrighted materials--they're quizes, plans and activities that teachers created by themselves. They should be able to enter these items into the vast network of teachers and create a free and open community of resources for any teacher to contribute to and to use.
There's one problem, though: proprietary formats. If teachers continue to use closed software like Geometer's Sketchpad, we remain slaves to the format. This is changing slowly, however, as there is no longer a stigma attached to writing pdf files or importing doc files into OpenOffice. Geometry teachers could use several of the free and open source alternatives to Geometer's Sketchpad, but few do. Why? Because the textbook publishers are like crack dealers. They know by now how to "give" (although you really don't get any rights to what you're given) teachers a free copy of their software. They also know how to make district tech departments feel like adopting their software will make their lives very easy.
So the district buys a site license to Geometer's Sketchpad and they're all set. Notice the students were never mentioned in this process? That was intentional. They are NOT factored into this process at all. Instead, decisions are made that lock students into having to use expensive software that they have no access to outside of class. Students would have access to all of the open source alternatives at home.
My district has done quite a dance with proprietary software. In the past it was acceptable to pay for access to, say, MacSchool, as it was pretty reliable and did what we wanted it to do. Since then, though, we have used expensive software that was terrible, and freeware (NOT open source) that was generally despised by all involved. Next year we switch to Infinite Campus, which I believe is a good thing. In the meantime, though, we have a semester where teachers are allowed to use whatever they want for a grading program. Really. Whatever we want. Some will no doubt just use the traditional red gradebook and only use computers for reporting final grades. Others will try to find an old copy of Making the Grade or something similar lying around.
I decided to Google "open source grading program teachers" and found Open Grade. It's simple and (dare I say) elegant. I did the Linux make, build, install and now have a pretty cool grading program with few features, but even less annoyances. It works. I can print out student or class reports into text files and fit a lot of info on one page. Also, since it's open source, you can get to the source code (in Perl) and alter the way it works.
We're lucky, as educators, that there are people like Ben Crowell, who created Open Grade. Some may scratch their heads and say, "but why would someone do that and share it for free?" I would say, however, that behavior like that is the rule, not the exception, in higher education, and I have hundreds of examples to prove that point. Here's a couple:
Jason R Briggs has written an excellent Python book for teaching Python to kids.
Dick Baldwin shares a ton of his own work for the Alice programming environment.
Allen Downey has been sharing his Java and Python books for years.
Moodle and Wordpress are used by many teachers, most of which can't believe they're free.
I just wish we had a more efficient way of sharing all these homegrown education resources....