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Graphical modeling software tools have become commonplace in educational laboratories associated with courses in signal processing and communication systems. This paper explains that the purely graphical approach to modeling and simulation can be improved upon by combining graphical modeling with some low-level programming tasks. To implement this philosophy, a new software tool called EduCOM was developed. EduCOM offers a graphical modeling environment to construct system models. It also translates a graphical model into C/C++ code that can be compiled into an executable to simulate the model. Students are required to program the functionality of important blocks in their models such as filters, minimum-distance hard-decision rules, and look-up-tables. Anecdotal evidence is provided indicating that this approach offers an improved learning experience over pure graphical modeling approaches.