I've been using R since version 1.1 came out and that was around 2005 when I was at Auburn and doing part-time work at Columbus State in Georgia. I struggled with some basics and once I figured out how to move data into R, I was able to move to doing analysis. The problem was that the manuals were written by computer scientists and I was too illiterate to get it. Thing is, I know I'm not alone so I wanted to hold a workshop and Lacawac Sanctuary got wind and offered to hold it there. So we did.
The goal of the workshop was to put R procedures into plain language that even ecologists understand. I'll post my presentation when I get a chance I'll post it here. I think it want really well. About twenty people showed - most were from out of state. Lots of graduate students and some DEP folks from New York. All friendly and all interested.
I think the most important part of pulling off a successful workshop is getting a group with similar expectations and meeting those expectations. And I tried to make it fun. That had exercises to do and if they succeeded I asked them to say "BOOM".