School of Distance Education

Institutional History

George Brown College's 50th Anniversary

George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, (GBC), is a publicly funded post-secondary institution operating under the authority of the  Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, MTCU, in the province of Ontario. The College received its Charter in 1967 and operates three main campuses spread over 13 buildings in Toronto, Canada.  The College is a member of the Association of Community Colleges of Canada (ACCC), a national organization consisting of over 200 post-secondary institutions, and Polytechnics Canada, the voice of leading research-intensive, publicly funded polytechnics, colleges and institutes of technology, dedicated to helping colleges and industry create jobs for tomorrow.

Currently, George Brown College has 28,924 full-time and 3,193 part-time in class students.  The College offers more than 150 full-time programs, with a diverse range of credentials, from certificates to diplomas and advanced diplomas to Bachelor degrees. 

The College offered its first correspondence course in 1968 and since then its enrolment in distance education courses has grown to over 20,000 students from around the world.  Enrolment growth in online courses increased at a rate of 10 – 15% a year from 2005 (while still known as ‘Continuing Education’) to 2015, and GBC has become the largest provider of distance education courses in Canada.

The GBC School of Distance Education (SDE), framed by its own mission and values, was formed in 2014 in response to the significant increase in enrolment in distance education courses and programs within the Centre for Continuous Learning and in recognition of the unique challenges associated with supporting thousands of online students in different international time zones and in supporting the unique needs associated with asynchronous learning.

In 1999, the College’s online Electronics Technician program received an Innovation Excellence award from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.  In 2001, the online Electronics Technician program received a $1 million grant from the Government of Ontario though its Lifelong Learning Challenge fund.

In 2003, the College’s Electronics Technician program was added to the recommended programs list with the Electronics Technician Association (ETA), which provides certification for Electronics Technicians in North America.

In 2005, the College was recognized as a certified training provider for Boeing Aerospace in Seattle, WA.  To date, over 150 Boeing employees have completed training through the School of Distance Education which has led to job promotions and pay increases for the students and productivity and efficiency improvements for the company.

In 2008, Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) added the College’s Electronics Technician program as an option to its existing training program.  This program is used extensively by the DND for service personnel deployed in remote locations around the world.
The GBC School of Distance Education (SDE) was itself formed in 2014 in response to the significant increase in enrolment in distance education courses and programs within the Centre for Continuous Learning and in recognition of the unique challenges associated with supporting thousands of online students in different international time zones and in supporting the unique needs associated with asynchronous learning.

In 2014, the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing (MMAH) awarded the School of Distance Education’s technology and trades area with a contract to provide online courses for building inspectors located throughout the province.

In 2014, the School of Distance Education entered into articulation agreements with Indiana State University and Newman University to allow graduates of its Electronics Technician program direct entry into the 3rd year of studies at these universities.

In 2018, the Academic Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) Graduate Certificate was accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) as a bridging program to licensure and practice /or entrance to university in pursuit of a BScN degree.