ELearning has the potential to support learning through the use of audio and visual media and an increasing range of tools and software. However research and evaluation of these technologies in use is required in order to ensure that the intended benefits are actually being delivered. The results of research at the Open University UK are presented and reveal that students experience workload challenges that can be addressed by making improvements to the design of courses. Study workload is also an issue in relation to students’ use of online forums and improvements to the design of activities online can lead to improved student participation. The aim of this paper is to discuss the way in which practice can be improved by using tools that help practitioners design the study time of their courses and the online conferencing activities that students are required to do.