I realize that the professor installed Cocoa Pods in the first module and has Pods workspace in all his projects but I am unsure what the difference between the Xcode workspace file and Pod workspace file. Is pods simply a third party repository of libraries that we could use? Could someone clarify?
Cocoa Pods is a way to simplify adding third party libraries to your Xcode project. You can add a third party library without them, but pods make the process much much simpler.