The education system’s response to the pandemic shows how technology can change the way teachers teach and students learn. This new transformative approach and out-of-class learning found that schools at all levels have adopted educational technology applications and online distance courses, and every teacher and student has been trapped in the online space for more than a year. Online collaborative learning (OCL) has received significant attention, but the ultimate goal of adopting OCL is neglected, especially in higher education context. To bridge the research gap, the present study applied OCL theory integrating with cognitive development to evaluate the effectiveness of student learning outcomes of learners through OCL. To our knowledge, this is the first study to operationalize the constructs of idea generating, idea organizing and intellectual convergence of the OCL process developed by Harasim (2007)’s framework adapted from knowledge management perspectives. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) is employed to analyze the research model. All the hypotheses are supported in the model and the findings of this study provide a comprehensively understanding about student learning performance in OCL process. The study illustrates that there are significant relationships among online collaborative tools, collaboration with peers, student engagement, OCL activities, and student learning performance.