The BARBRI Group companies meet the legal education, cyber skills education and specialized training needs of law students, attorneys, IT students and other professionals throughout their careers. The companies offer a comprehensive portfolio of learning solutions for higher education institutions and law- and finance-related businesses. At the core of The BARBRI Group Companies is BARBRI Bar Review, which has helped more than 1.3 million lawyers around the world pass a U.S. bar exam. The company also provides online J.D., post-J.D. and international programs for U.S. law schools, handson cyber skills training for IT and criminal justice programs, and specialized ongoing training and certifications in areas such as financial crime prevention, eDiscovery and cyber literacy. The BARBRI Group, founded in 1967, is a Leeds Equity Partners portfolio company headquartered in Dallas with offices throughout the United States and around the world.
With over 50 years of history, BARBRI evolved from the first provider of BAR prep courses to a wider portfolio of law education programs. They cover not only a broad spectrum of topics, but also a variety of formats, from print and in-person to online and on-demand. As with its offering, the company’s content management needs also evolved: at BARBRI, content is not just information, it’s also the core of its services. To remain state-of-the-art, the company recognized the need to change the way its content was being created and consumed.
Virtual learning has brought sweeping change to the educational experience, and new technologies keep bringing fresh challenges. BARBRI wanted its content team to work together using a unique repository that could centralize all information and related workflows. They required a more effective way not just to create new materials, but also update existing courses, reuse or reformat subjects. This was, in fact, one of BARBRI’s major constraints: the ability to innovate without incurring heavy operational costs.
Another restraint was the number of users the system had to accommodate: a large content team composed
of geographically dispersed and multidisciplinary profiles, and an average of 30,000± students a year accessing the study and exercise materials. Moreover, BARBRI lacked tools to track students’ progress online and gather evidence to better support their needs. The company required an agile, flexible and transparent CMS to tackle these challenges as they were becoming more and more complex.
BARBRI was already using the DITA XML standard for structured authoring of the course content and exam
preparation documents, but the company’s legacy CMS (R-Suite) lacked flexibility and room for growth. It was a ‘proprietary’ system and therefore locked, limiting its customization functions and preventing the company from working with multiple services providers. As Chad Crume, BARBRI’s Director of Content Management noted “there were pain points such as a constant feeling of restriction that made us feel too limited on who we could work with on the customization that was necessary for us.” An open platform was the need of the hour.
BARBRI chose Componize, an Alfresco-based Component Content Management System (CCMS), to manage its DITA content and replace its legacy system. By Componize’s recommendation, Amplexor emerged as the clear choice to design and implement the new enterprise content management platform. The long track record of successful Alfresco and Componize projects, along with global expertise in information management, multilingual content and digital experience represented the added-value that Amplexor could bring to solve BARBRI’s challenges.
Amplexor developed an easy-to-manage content and document environment hitting all of BARBRI’s points: a streamlined, cost-effective and innovative approach to manage a high volume of learning content.
On one hand, DITA authoring enabled the content team to easily reuse and repurpose content, take advantage of the inter-relationship of content (such as tagging content to taxonomy for searchability and faceted capabilities) and publish it to all channels. On the other hand, the fact that Alfresco was the most widely used open source enterprise content management platform in the world was a real guarantee of long-term sustainability and extendability. The integration of Componize with other software such as oXygen XML editor applet, DITA OpenToolkit and dita4publishers added all the functionalities needed, such as link management,
advanced editing, revision tools and multimedia publishing.
Amplexor worked with BARBRI in an Agile process with 3-week sprints. This phased execution and regular testing and feedback rounds, allowed for the ideal technical solutions to be obtained, while providing a permanent and fully transparent view of the project events to all involved.
The new content management system enabled a complete overhaul to the content creation workflows, streamlining how the products and customer services are delivered, from printed to online materials, including outlines of legal subjects, live and streaming lectures, diagnostic tests, practice exams, additional study materials and exercise materials.
The content team can easily reuse, repackage, or reformat subjects into customized publications. The automatic update of all materials any time there is a change in the law, for example, enables BARBRI to keep up with to the speed requirements all digital and online services require. Multiple choice questions printed on an exercise material can also be automatically published on the e-learning platform for the online experience.
By streamlining its modes of output, which include EPUB, print, HTML, among other digital formats, BARBRI is able to present a comprehensive offering to customers, including live and video classroom lectures, online coursework and a free mobile app for popular handheld devices, so that students can study how they want to.
BARBRI meets the legal education needs of law students and attorneys throughout their careers. By optimizing the collaborative production of educational content and streamlining multiformat publishing, the company is taking legal and professional learning to new heights.
The single biggest capability that has been added to achieve authoring experience is the creation of ‘tracked changes’ documents. Generally speaking, we saw a 50% reduction in proofreading hours alone.
Chad Crume Director of Content Management at BARBRI
Single-source, multi-channel publishing, including mobile, has given BARBRI’s students firsthand access to valuable content by the most knowledgeable Subject Matter Experts, in their format of choice. The variety of available formats helps them take full advantage of the services they subscribed for, from pdf documentation to responsive site pages that automatically adjust to users’ screens. Through technology and content BARBRI creates tailored learning environments that help reduce the learning curve.
In terms of process improvements, BARBRI has seen a reduction of hours and resources for several tasks: the team is able to expedite updates in an accurate manner, eliminate duplication efforts, increase productivity and accelerate delivery.
In the past, proofreaders had to read the entire document and BARBRI would get billed for these extra hours. Now, changes can be easily tracked and exported to proofreaders, showing exactly what needs to be reviewed and thereby reducing the total hours spent on the task by half.
Another example is the creation of custom exams for different schools or students: by taking the complexity out of customization, Senior writers would have normally taken 20-40 hours to do a search in the system based on a certain subject, selecting the topics and materials to curate a quiz map and checking those questions to make sure they haven’t been repeated. So, it not only freed up time, but also employee resources that can be better used elsewhere.
The centralized and collaborative content management system with a user-friendly interface, offering optimal author experience, helped over 60 content contributors, collaborators, editors, proof-readers and technical assistants get up and running quickly.
To protect BARBRI’s heritage in the legal education field and ensure students’ exam success rate, it’s vital that all learning outputs are accurate and upto-date. By ensuring all legislation revisions are automatically incorporated in all materials and formats and that outdated information is removed, a high quality standard is maintained with minimal manual effort.
Innovation in e-learning was introduced also by extending the capability to evaluate learners’ progress against course outcomes or competencies.
This continuous assessment allows BARBRI to monitor how effective the teaching is, make datadriven decisions to improve the products at every stage and ensure real, measurable results.
BARBRI has the potential for increasing its reach globally. While historically they are based on U.S. law, the new solution grants the company capabilities to expand and not be confined to physical boundaries: easy content creation allows bespoke course materials for any legal system or language, while mobile and online delivery already provides flexibility for today’s globalization needs.
Growing within the category by offering new educational courses for students as well as lawyers in trending legal areas, such as cyber security, financial crime or specific industries’ regulatory and compliance contexts, is also another future possibility of the new CMS.
We are confident the solution we developed with BARBRI provides an up-to-the-minute framework to more efficiently manage resources, matching content management to knowledge management. The pipeline for further improvements makes us certain we’ll continue to help them inspire innovation in teaching and learning.
Nicolas Bernier Project Manager, Amplexor
Amplexor Collaboration & Compliance include all the strategic guidance and technology expertise you need to take the crucial step towards a digital way of working. From strategy design to technology implementation, we help our clients to adopt a digital approach enterprise-wide and to enable their employees to focus on the most important aspect: the customer.