This question was posted in response to the following article: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/framemaker/using/WSC489C733-22A5-4271-B024-8B8DFF7238F9.html
In FrameMaker 11: What is a panel? What is a pod?
Panels & pods are essentially the same thing (a very bad choice of terminology as a holdover from the Macromedia days for RoboHelp), i.e. a dockable dialogue window. Pods tend to be more complex and contain lists of items.