Focussing on a specific higher education online learning environment (OLE), this study aims to investigate and analyse instructional designs that employ Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Teaching Presence, Authenticity and Group Skills Development as educational strategies to mitigate group work issues and subsequently encourage collaborative group work. Group work is a challenging learning space for both participants and facilitators in the higher education sector. Known issues such as free riding, unfair marking and a lack of existing group work skills in the student cohort, create a catalyst for conflict which can lead to negative perceptions and avoidance of group work. Isolation and the resulting independent learning culture typifying online study contexts further challenge collaborative and active learning pedagogies required in contemporary online adult learning and assessment contexts.