December 1, 2021 - Podcast

Episode 208—Teaching creativity through video games, and addressing substance use disorder among adolescents

According to the World Economic Forum, creativity is one of the Top 10 skills all employees need for the jobs of tomorrow. But what if you’re not creative? Gurkan Maruf Mihci, an assistant professor in the Herron School of Art at IUPUI, says you can learn. He created a video game, called "Stages of Visual Creativity", to explain the importance of creativity and help users learn the skill. While teaching creativity is always a challenge because of the abstract thinking involved, Mihci says game-based learning activities often help. Video games can be very useful tools for teaching creativity, he says, because the players solve various problems and “learn by doing.” Mistakes can be part of the learning process, he says. In Mihci’s game, participants learn concepts of creativity and how to "read" the visuals and images around them as well as basic strategies for manipulating images to create unique art and design works. In a world where automation, digital systems, and artificial intelligence surround us, Mihci says human creativity is one of the most important skills we need.

In other news, data just released by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that American drug overdose deaths have hit record numbers. In a 12-month period ending April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the prior year. It’s the first time U.S. overdose deaths have gone over 100,000 in a year. To help fight this growing issue, IU School of Medicine faculty are expanding the school's psychiatry-based substance use disorder services for adolescents and their caregivers with support from a new $2.7 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. IU School of Medicine professors Dr. Zack Adams and Dr. Leslie Hulvershorn lead the project. Adams says when it comes to substance use disorder, a quick response is crucial, and the new services expansion means adolescents across Indiana can avoid having to sit on long waitlists and will receive treatment more quickly. The expansion will leverage two existing programs --the Riley Adolescent Dual Diagnosis Program and the Adolescent Addiction Access helpline—to provide greater support and resources to adolescent patients and their families. All aspects of development can be disrupted by substance use, Adams says, and things can change quickly, but a brief course of care, such as that enabled by the IU School of Medicine’s expanded psychiatry-based services, can really turn things around.