Generative AI is here to stay, and we need to explore the potential role of these technologies in distance education and online learning, considering both the benefits and challenges. With many potentials such as customized learning experiences, intelligent tutoring, automated grading, content creation, and personalized career advice, there are also a wide range of challenges such as bias in data and algorithms, lack of transparency, overreliance on AI, data privacy and security, access and equity, automation, and singularity. Based on these considerations, generative AI requires enhancing the scope of current educational roles or adopting new ones, such as facilitators of learning, curators of learning resources, designers of learning experiences, and assessors of learning. Though distance education and online learning are mostly attributed spatial and temporal distances, generative AI should also be considered in terms of transactional distance. While the use of generative AI has the potential to decrease the transactional distance, educators still can play a crucial role in bridging this gap by providing personalized support and guidance throughout the learning process not only in terms of pedagogical aspects, but also from the perspective of pedagogy of care and human-centered learning design.