I think that this article has a lot of interesting tips for getting seeds to germinate. I have been gardening for years, and have always just put the seeds in the ground. This has always seemed to work for me, though I may try piercing my larger pumpkin seeds this upcoming growing season to see if that helps them sprout faster.
When I have plant seeds, I always simply put them in soil that I watered just before planting them. Then I cover them loosely with well-tilled soil. This not only gives the seeds the moisture they need to sprout, but the nutrients in the soil get them off to a good start for creating healthy plants.