An emerging challenge for the Australian higher education sector is the delivery of authentic eLearning to support the collaborative construction of knowledge through the provision of real-life tasks in an online environment. This paper describes research conducted in a fourth-year university course where students from across the nation were required to work in small groups to complete an online assignment task: to design a provocation that could be integrated into an early childhood learning environment to promote multiliteracies learning. A qualitative design-based study of two cohorts of students found that online group work facilitates authentic connections between educational theory and practice, and that the introduction of a ‘digital handshake’ group contract can support these processes.