Science Magazine has posted a video introduction to their special "Education and Technology" issue.
I couldn't agree more about the need to have real data telling educators (and developers) what does and does not work, and that we need a better distribution model for educational games.
However, It's always a little disingenuous to talk about World of Warcraft and The Sims when trying to make the point that video games can reach millions of players. WoW and The Sims are outliers - the most successful games out there.
Since we're talking about educational games, which tend to be developed by smaller, less experienced teams, we should look at independently produced commercial games as our models. Indie game studios are exploring new methods of distribution, and have to sell games without huge marketing budgets. We'll try to explore some of these ideas in future articles on Games Can Teach.
I also agree with video's characterization of standardized tests. Multiple choice tests don't test critical thinking, only memorization, and short-term memorization is not learning. The video looks to games as tools that can help teach, but many educational games are just multiple choice tests in game-like clothing. I'm certainly guilty of designing this kind of game, (Sometimes that's what The Client wants!) but in my opinion, the way forward for educational games are games that teach by giving players relevant experiences, not games that lecture players and then test memorized facts.