Efforts to enhance learning through peer interaction in an electronic forum are now commonplace. However, facilitation and moderation of such a forum by academic staff can be of limited effectiveness and very time-consuming. The skills required by peer learners to effectively manage such distributed discourse for themselves have rarely been clearly identified. This paper compares the social, organizational and cognitive characteristics of effective peer learning interactions in face-to-face and online environments (with particular reference to peer tutoring and peer assessment). This leads to a specification of transferable skills for online peer learning, at the macro and micro levels, with commentary on areas needing particular attention. The implications for assessment of such online distributed discourse process skills are explored with reference to professional practice and future research.