We are continuing the development of the Message Assistant, an email client with hypertextual tools for organizing message bases into knowledge bases and a powerful rule engine, that allows teachers and students to incrementally embed their routine knowledge in a rule base that eases the burden of dealing with routine electronic messages. The Message Assistant collects rich process data on its use, and permits us to trace its use by teachers and students.
The Message Assistant is a "prototype" environment, which can be used by heavily supported users. We have been "exporting" the features that our analysis of the use of the Message Assistant shows to be the most powerful to a "production" environment, a electronic mail client program called "Eudora". So far, the "rule engine" feature implemented into Eudora has proved useful not only for everyday mail reading, but also as an "analytical engine", facilitating the analysis of large message sets.
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