April 18, 2023

How cloud-based projects in OneDrive bring the Waltons together

Whether working on a large-scale long-distance family collaboration or putting together a 3D printing project with the household, the Walton family flexes their tech savvy in order to spend more quality time together.

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Combining a love of tech and a love of family

Bruce Walton is a life-long tech enthusiast. “I have been working in tech since 1995, [and] I have been an enthusiast […] since I was 13 years old and very involved with various new technologies.” He sees Microsoft 365 as a “great power” to his family. “Microsoft 365 allows my family to do professional-level work at home.”

The powerful collaboration potential allows Bruce to embark on projects with family outside the household, too.

“My siblings and I, we decided to start writing a family history together. And so I put a Word document […] out and shared it with my siblings and we started writing family memories. I’m much younger than my other siblings and some of my memories are very different from theirs. […] Being able to have those multiple perspectives as we started writing the document […] allowed me to learn more about the family before I was born.”

Collaborating across generations and strengthening bonds

“One day I was working in that document, and […] I could see that two of my other siblings—you know, one living in Pennsylvania and the other living in California—were working at the same time. And it was it was a lot of fun. […] I looked at it like, ‘This is how I collaborate at work.’ You know, being able to share a document, […] being able to do that with my siblings was powerful. And it again, it’s […] those Microsoft [365] tools that allowed [us] to do that.”

Working together is powerfully evocative for Bruce and his siblings and relatives. “Being able to put together this document […] with my siblings about our […] family stories, family events [has] allowed us to put down on paper finally those stories we shared. […] We realized that nobody had written them down.“ Committing memories to the document comes with both challenges and catharsis. “We kind of ironed out, you know, our common background instead of, ‘Hey, I remember it this way,’ ‘I remember it this way.’ As we sat down and we actually wrote, and read the words, and edited each other’s work, we said, ‘OK, […] where’s the truth?”

“Seeing my siblings work together on a shared family history […] has allowed me to feel closer with my siblings […]. We don’t live close together, but [even with] that physical distance, […] being able to work together on that document has drawn us closer together.”

Not only do they collaborate on documenting their family history, but they also share additional media to support their historical record. Bruce creates OneDrive folders for members of his extended family across the country to upload and share photos. “I have a […] shared Walton family photo folder on OneDrive where my siblings can drop files that we want to share among all of us.”


Strengthening family bonds and tech skills

Family projects happen at home, too.

When the pandemic hit, the Waltons embarked on a new hobby that they could all do together: 3D printing. According to Bruce, “It became our way of, you know, working together as a family.”

“As we work with 3D printing, there [are] a lot of files involved, and all of our 3D print files are stored in a OneDrive folder: […] the source […] model and then the actual file that is used by the 3D printer to generate the […] final output.”

In fact, the whole process hinges on collaborating in the cloud. “Sometimes we […] need to work together as a family to modify or to develop a 3D print. [My] wife will use [her] laptop to select the print that that we want to do. And then from […] Connor’s computer, he will then use his various 3D modeling software [to make modifications].”

“Collaborating through the cloud is […] vital,” Bruce adds, “Because we’re working with two to three different computers and then making sure it’s ready to go. [And] if we need to back up […] I’ll be able to do that directly on the cloud.”

Not only is the collaboration fun, it also sets up the Waltons’ sons for success in future endeavors. “My older son, Connor […] wants to go into video game development and having him use the tools that are frequently used in industry […] will allow him to hit the ground running.”

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