An authentic online collaborative assessment task, implemented in an introductory biology course, posed several challenges for the students. The task required application of knowledge rather than simple summarising and had to be presented in a specific style. It took many students some time to become at ease with the online environment. However, they appreciated the benefits of asynchronous communication and reported feeling more at ease to express opinions. In addition, group work and co-assessment challenged students to develop learning and interpersonal skills. An additional benefit of using online discussion boards was the teacher’s ability to obtain evidence of the way students interacted within groups that is not available in traditional group settings. Students actually found collaborating online difficult but satisfying. The study clearly demonstrates that authentic learning can be achieved by introductory students in a science course. Furthermore, the online environment enhanced the learning experience and student satisfaction.