Mobile Classrooms at CCA

CCA is the only public cyber charter school in Pennsylvania to offer fully equipped mobile classrooms.

CCA students doing art in a mobile classroomAlthough CCA is a public cyber charter school and most of our learning takes place online, we have always been a strong proponent of hands-on learning. Some educational facilities take their shows on the road for students — for instance, the Philadelphia Zoo has its Zoo on Wheels program to bring animal education to schools, and the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg operates a popular mobile art museum called vanGO. In that same vein, CCA operates several mobile classrooms in retrofitted vehicles, all procured without the use of state or local money, that bring learning to our students all across the state.

What Is a Mobile Classroom?

A mobile classroom is exactly what it sounds like – a classroom on wheels that can be moved. But in terms of CCA’s mobile classrooms, it’s important to be even more specific about our terminology. CCA’s mobile classrooms are not these trailer-like buildings anchored on an overcrowded elementary school field or parking lot. A mobile classroom is typically in a vehicle the size of a motor home or trailer, with the insides specially retrofitted to hold things regular classrooms would have – computers, whiteboards, books, science labs – whatever a school feels is necessary to take its educational resources to students.

CCA’s mobile classroom should not be confused with a true portable classroom. That is a type of portable building installed at a school to temporarily and quickly provide additional classroom space. These tend to be used when the school lacks capacity due to overcrowding or because of an emergency like a fire or flood. They are designed to be removed once the capacity situation is solved or even disassembled and relocated to another section of the grounds. These buildings would be installed much like a mobile home, with utilities attached to a main building to provide light and heat for the room.

Modular classroom buildings, on the other hand, are constructed off-site and shipped to their location upon completion. Modular classrooms offer additional space and blend in with a building’s existing architecture. Modular spaces tend to be more permanent structures. They can be moved, but it is a more involved undertaking than moving a portable classroom.

The Benefits of Learning in Mobile Classrooms

Mobile classrooms take the technology that makes a cyber school possible to students anywhere in the state for the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning activities, a chance to socialize with their classmates and to expand their learning moments beyond their virtual classroom.

Our mobile classrooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, smartboards and a fully stocked science lab. In comparison to regular classrooms, we’ve custom designed our mobile classrooms to maximize space, allow students to engage in multiple, diverse activities at the same time and, in many cases, hold activities inside and outside the classroom.

Because an increasing number of our students prefer a multimedia experience to stay engaged in their learning, the mobile classrooms allow hands-on activities, videos and audio presentations and in-person meetings with experts from a variety of disciplines.

Our AgWorks at CCA mobile lab gives students the chance to engage in experiments and hands-on learning in a bite-size version of our full-scale controlled environment agriculture lab in Harrisburg.

We also engage our mobile classrooms during some of our 500 yearly field trips to expand venue space and help our students better absorb the on-site learning in whichever learning style works best for them.

Another benefit for our students is that our mobile classrooms provide yet one more avenue for students and teachers to interact face to face. Because CCA students come from all over the state of Pennsylvania, these mobile adventures are a great way for virtual friends to meet up in person.

How CCA Uses Mobile Classrooms

CCA is the only public cyber charter school in Pennsylvania to offer fully equipped mobile classrooms.

CCA’s mobile classrooms – J.A.C.K., J.A.C.K. 2.0 and the AgWorks at CCA mobile lab – are on the road throughout the school year, serving CCA families statewide. The mobile classrooms carry everything from wireless internet and smartboards to a fully stocked science lab.

All of our mobile classrooms are equipped with Wi-Fi so students can complete their lessons while onboard. Students take advantage of hands-on, indoor and outdoor educational activities using the technology onboard.

AgWorks at CCA, which has a physical controlled environment agriculture lab in Harrisburg, also offers an AgWorks at CCA mobile lab that travels across the state to provide students additional hands-on learning opportunities. Aquaponics allows students to receive training in a wide array of disciplines in the agriculture field, which can lead to careers in chemistry, marketing, data analysis, coding and more.

We call our mobile classrooms J.A.C.K., which stands for Journeying Academic Classroom for Kinesthetic learners.

We acquired our first J.A.C.K. in 2009 using funds we received from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This recreational vehicle is more like a classroom on wheels. We travel all over the state from Philadelphia to Erie and everywhere in between several times a month, putting 10,000 to 20,000 miles a year on our vehicles.

In 2015, we acquired J.A.C.K. 2.0 using federal Ready to Learn Block Grant funds. J.A.C.K. 2.0 is more like a box truck. It does have a small classroom space inside, but the vehicle is used more for outdoor activities. This mobile unit has an outdoor monitor and sound system that enable us to have two separate activities going on at each mobile classroom event. It contains specially designed storage areas for us to bring along outdoor seating and tables that we can set up when we arrive at a destination.

J.A.C.K. 2.0 is used quite often in conjunction with field trips to expand the benefit of the trip. For instance, while one group of students could be inside the facility that is hosting our field trip, we could run two other learning components simultaneously with J.A.C.K 2.0. That could include an outdoor activity involving a hands-on learning event linked to the subject of the field trip, while we would host a smaller group of students inside J.A.C.K.

Those students would be involved in a different hands-on learning activity related to the field trip. Then we rotate the students through those activities and the offerings inside the venue. This enables facilities to deal with smaller groups of children and extends the subject’s value through multiple, multisensory learning methods. J.A.C.K. also can be used to provide more classroom space at field trip venues that lack the room. This enhancement to our field trips really brings the lessons home for CCA students in our mobile classrooms.

We partnered with a company, which provides the drivers for our vehicles and follows a 44-point checklist for safety and maintenance to make sure our mobile classroom is in tiptop shape and ready to roll.

Mobile Classrooms Help Engage Students

Our mobile classrooms bring learning opportunities to students across Pennsylvania to help them gain the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to achieve success. Learn more about how CCA can help your child.