I'm in the midst of starting a project to encourage greater use of open educational resources (OER) and spending quite a lot of time discussing the opportunities and threats involved in sharing teaching material on the net. In Sweden at least, relatively few teachers are aware of the vast amount of resources that are already available on the net that may be reused and in some cases even adapted in accordance with Creative Commons licensing.
The main problem is that the adoption of OER involves a pretty radical rethink of the teacher's role. Governments encourage increasing competition between schools and universities with league tables to help parents and students choose the best school to attend. Little wonder then that many are reluctant to share their lesson plans and presentation material since doing so may give other schools an advantage.
At the same time and despite the competition, more and more teachers are collaborating on the development of materials and are using web based material in their teaching. The key question seems to be how far a teacher's role is defined in terms of content production. I think nearly all teachers rather enjoy producing new material and seeing if it works or not; I have at any rate.
But is it possible to be considered a good teacher if you never produce your own matrial and instead refer students to other people's lectures, lesson plans and learning objects? I'm sure it is possible today since teaching is all about providing context not content. We've always referred students to textbooks and articles so why not recorded lectures and other learning objects on the net?
There's a very good article on Campus Technology by Trent Batson, As we may learn, that uses the analogy of verb tenses to explain this shift. The production of content is seen as past tense, a finished article, whereas now the focus is on dialogue and creating context and that is described as present continuous tense
"To present “content,” something finished, is industrial age; to engage students in the active conversation in your field makes more sense now. Education is not about the past tense, but the present progressive"
Teaching should move from focusing on the production of content to the living dialogue around that content with teachers providing context and insight. Since this process of collaborative analysis and reflection is unique, he argues, there can be no problems with plagiarism:
"If you instead help students create the content of the course, there can be no plagiarism because no one else has ever constructed your disciplinary knowledge in exactly that way."
Maybe the answer is that we can happily share content even in a competitive education sector because the competitive element is the teachers' ability to provide meaningful context and guidance.