We do the online response thing too, through something we call the
Cybertutor. Ours is a basic system of e-mail with comments done
few questions--to help students focus on what they expected. I want to
refine this, this summer, (fewer more focused questions, clearer
directions) but it works fairly well.
I would be concerned about peer tutors launching into this -- I noted
Mary Louise's emphasis on *experienced*-- because I think it is more
difficult than face to face to give the kind of holistic response that
we would want. Also, you lose the nuance of gesture (is the student
comfortable? comprehending?) that is sometimes helpful in reading a
situation. In making responses, we try to make a larger overall
response at the outset, then note specific issues interlinearly. This
has been working pretty well as an approach, and I've had feedback from
several students who use it regularly that they find it helpful. Some
want editing. Our site makes it clear that this is not an option, but
it is a danger, and I wonder if it is one that undergrad peer tutors
might be more likely to face because of their inexperience.
Plan carefully what you will offer. Define the limits clearly from the
outset -- and making them really explicit to both the tutor and the
tutee -- and monitor the project carefully. That'd be my advice.