© The Author(s) 2022.This experimental study within the scope of Anadolu University Open Education Faculty in Turkey aims to examine the effect of online group discussion techniques. In this context, the online group discussion technique, which is applied by dividing the learners into manageable groups in online learning environments, has been examined within the scope of intrinsic motivation, social presence, and perceived learning variables. Sequential explanatory mixed method design was used to conduct this study. The online group discussion process was applied in the study’s experimental group by dividing the learners into manageable groups. In this process, a field expert accompanied each group. In the control group, the discussion process was left to its natural state, and all learners who took the relevant course were included in a single group. Before and after the experimental process, data were collected from 250 learners through the study scales, and then five learners were interviewed. The findings obtained within the study’s scope show that the design to be applied in the online group discussion technique used in online learning environments is important in increasing the efficiency to be obtained from the process. In this context, it has been observed that to manage online learning processes effectively, attention should be paid to the fact that the groups must be less than 150 learners to not show mass features. Online group discussions in groups that do not show mass features positively affected the learners’ intrinsic motivation, social presence, and perceived learning levels. However, acting in line with the principles of social constructivism theory and the community of inquiry theory in learning processes has increased the discussions’ efficiency. Besides, it has been observed that the increase in the social presence and intrinsic motivation of the learners positively affects their perceived learning levels.