“A gift to the world” — this was how the Department of Educational Communication (DEC) of the College of Development Communication (CDC) described the working definition of Educational Communication (EdCom) Los Baños-style when they launched it during EDCOM Talks 2023 held on 5 June 2023 at the ICOPED Auditorium, UPLB and via Zoom. 

With the theme “Weaving the Past, Present, and Future: Towards an Emerging Definition of Educational Communication,” this hybrid event aimed to present the new definition and framework of EdCom as a result of DEC’s research project titled, “Towards an Emerging Definition of Educational Communication.” 

The research project developed an EdCom framework based on the concepts discussed during a 2021 roundtable discussion, which was participated in by EdCom pioneers, experts, and practitioners. The results of the discussion as well as the series of workshops that followed among DEC academic staff laid down the foundations for the creation of a new working definition of EdCom. 

DEC OIC-Chair Elijah Jesse Pine led the presentation of the project’s output, which defined EdCom as “the study and practice of communication that constitutes and facilitates learning that is empowering, ethical, and inclusive among various learners in different development contexts.”

The project was spurred by the felt need to recognize EdCom as an evolving field, prompting an assessment of its overlaps with and divergence from Educational Technology, which EdCom has largely been associated with. Similarly, the changes in the BS Devcom program in 2012 have made the department reflect about EdCom as a domain of Devcom. 

“The shift from a specialist to a generalist BS Devcom curriculum brought Devcom at a crossroads, and triggered a re-examination of the relevance of EdCom as an area of study and practice within the purview of Devcom,” Pine said. 

Aside from the working definition, Pine also presented the three-dimensional representation of the field, called the Bubble Model of EdCom. The model depicts a dome-like structure, or a bubble, emerging from a plane representing the concept of development. This act of emergence signifies how EdCom practice arises out of the need to address a development issue, highlighting the needs-based and pragmatic nature of the field.

After the presentation, discussants shared their insights about the definition and the model, sparking a conversation not only about the project but also about the past, present, and future directions of the field. 

Dr. Maria Celeste Cadiz, former College of Development Communication (CDC) dean and author of the EdCom textbook Educational Communication in Development: Basic concepts, theories and knowhow, commended the work of the department and the rigor behind the project.  

She suggested to produce three outputs based on the results of this research: first is the revised EdCom textbook to reflect the updated skills needed and used by students today; second is a monograph written for EdCom practitioners and applied researchers; and finally a refereed journal article with the more theoretical articulation of the definition and the model. Cadiz also shared some suggestions to revise the Bubble Model that focuses on the learner/learning outcome and incorporates learning tasks, mode/media, and mentor/s.  

Similarly, Association of Development Communication Educators and Practitioners (ADCEP) Philippines President Dr. Ulderico Alviola expressed via Zoom his commitment to work with DEC in sharing the new definition and model to Devcom-offering Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines and abroad. 

He highlighted the role of the new definition in a growing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research culture to address evolving and complex development problems, especially in light of the issues and opportunities in education that have surfaced during the pandemic. Alviola encouraged the participants to continue the conversation and to share this definition among colleagues, Devcom networks, and government agencies. 

The final discussant, Cedric Katigbak, a graduating UPLB BS Devcom student, shared how the theories and principles of EdCom can extend and contribute to formal education. He also emphasized how the new definition evinces EdCom’s goal of transformative learning. Reflecting on his field experiences as a Devcom student, Katigbak proposed the idea of an EdCom Code of Ethics that can be used by fellow Devcom students and practitioners alike.  

  “A gift to the world is how our EdCom professors describe the working definition of EdCom. And like any gift, more than being grateful for it, we use it. We use it with responsibility and with an intention that is beyond our personal goals and aspirations. We use it critically, ensuring that the definition remains relevant and responsive to the ever-evolving societal challenges,” Katigbak said. 

Apart from the presentation of the working definition and the Bubble Model, DEC faculty members also launched the annual EdCom Talks forum, presented the methodology of the project, and discussed lessons and insights from the project. 

More than 250 participants from different devcom-offering HEIs in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao joined EdCom Talks 2023 on-site and via Zoom combined. 

DEC organized EdCom Talks 2023 as part of CDC’s 25th anniversary as a full-fledged college. (JM Embate)