50th Anniversary

Centre For Extended Learning 50th Anniversary Banner

The Centre for Extended Learning was proud to celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2018!

From our humble beginnings as a correspondence program in 1968 we grew to be one of the largest providers of online education at a University in Canada.

Take some time today to:

Jim Leslie at uWaterloo

J.D. Leslie in the early days of the correspondence program

  1. 1968
    1. An Idea Forms

      JD Leslie pitches the idea of correspondence courses to Howard Petch (Academic VP) in order to help high school teachers upgrade their education. 

    2. Official Start of the Correspondence Program

      Physics gives Jim Leslie $2000 to buy a tape duplicator, hire one part-time secretary, and provide technical support training. 

  2. 1971
    1. Technology

      40 x 40 minute taped lectures, on 5-inch reels: "can be used on a 4-track stereo tape recorder by turning down one channel".

    2. Senate Agrees

      Students are allowed to take two correspondence courses per year towards their degree.

  3. 1973
    1. First Arts and Biology Courses

      Economics, English, Psychology, French, Classics, Ecology 1, Genetics and Evolution, and Human Biology.

  4. 1976
    1. Technology

      Lectures are sent out on 2-track C90 cassettes.

    2. Senior Bursaries

      Bursaries available for seniors to take courses for free. 

  5. 1977
    1. First General Interest (Professional Development) courses offered

  6. 1981
    1. Technology

      First use of Telidon (interactive television system) in ENGL 251. 

    2. 42-Day National Postal Strike

      Staff members sent telegrams to over 4000 correspondence students during the strike. This cost the department a little over $7000. Exams were sent via courier, bus, rail express, and airplane. 

    3. Faculty of Arts Scholarships

      $100 scholarships for part-time and correspondence students became available. 

  7. 1982
    1. Learning on a Grand Scale

      We send a quarter million cassette tapes to distance students. 

  8. 1984
    1. Numbers Game

      Athabasca University beats University of Waterloo for "largest correspondence program" in terms of course enrolments, but they only have 100 courses to our 168. 

    2. We Moved!

      In January, they cut the (cassette) tape at our new location in Annex 2 (156 Columbia Street).

  9. 1987
    1. Technology

      First video cassettes (VHS or Beta) are used in a Calligraphy course to demonstrate techniques.

  10. 1988
    1. Technology

      First 50 students pick up laptops for CS 100; only students living close to the University were eligible. 

  11. 1990
    1. Technology

      New duplication machine! 300-400 tapes a day created per operator; Introduction of floppy disks and Alex (Bell Canada's interactive videotex service).

  12. 1991
    1. Course Expansion

      The Correspondence program receives $203,000 from Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

  13. 1993
    1. 25th Anniversary

      Coincides with a soft transition from Correspondence to 'Distance Education'.

  14. 1997
    1. Technology

      Environmental Economics was the first fully web-based course offered. 

      CD-ROMS also started to replace tapes for audio lectures. 

  15. 2000
    1. We Moved Again!

      Office moved to Gage Avenue and our name changed to 'Distance and Continuing Education'.

    2. Launching Abroad

      Distance education courses marketed outside of Canada in Hong Kong.

  16. 2003
    1. Honorary Member

      Founder JD Leslie was named an honorary member to the University. 

  17. 2004
    1. Technology

      Converted remaining physical formats, such as tapes and CDs, to MP3 format. 

    2. Online Enrolment

      Quest platform is developed allowing students to enrol in courses online.

  18. 2005
    1. Technology

      First Learning Management System (LMS) called Angel or UW-ACE is purchased to deliver courses and course information to students online.

      High speed Internet was not a requirement, so Flash files were also mailed on CD-ROMS. 

  19. 2008
    1. Task Force on Online Learning

      Laid the foundation for modernization of what CEL is today. 

    2. Certificate Programs

      Professional Development launched its first in-class certificate programs: Leadership and Project Management.

  20. 2010
    1. Name Change

      Distance Education becomes 'Centre For Extended Learning'.

  21. 2012
    1. Technology

      All courses are moved from UW-ACE to a new LMS Desire2Learn.

    2. Certificate Programs

      Professional Development offers its first online certificate program in Supervision. 

  22. 2013
    1. Strategic Plan

      Online learning embedded in Waterloo's Strategic Plan.

  23. 2014
    1. Expansion

      eCampus Ontario (eCO) is founded, which over the next few years, awards us with over $1 million in development and research grants. 

  24. 2015
    1. Back On-Campus

      CEL moves from Gage Avenue to EC3 on the North East side of Waterloo's Campus.

  25. 2016
    1. CEL Hosts CAUCE

      CEL hosts the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE) Conference. 

  26. 2018
    1. Technology

      CEL works towards converting all Flash-based presentations to more device-friendly alternatives.